I mocked this last week on the Twitters, and Chris (@tessasdad) managed to turn it into something of a term of endearment, but here it is for all our readers: MSNBC has discovered a new plague endangering our children. It goes by the street names of Nut Tag, aka Sack Tapping, aka Roshambo. It is the hitting, smacking, slapping, tweaking, torquing, squeezing, pinching, pulling, yanking, or ganking of the testicles. It’s sunny outside so I don’t want to spend sackloads of time breaking this MSNBC “report” down, but let’s just take a quick look at the nut graf (that’s a real journalistic term, okay?) of this breathless and almost completely unfounded story:
Nearly 8,000 boys and young men ages 10 to 20 were treated for pubic region injuries in the nation’s emergency rooms last year, according to estimates from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That’s up from about 7,300 injuries in 2008 and about 5,500 in 2007.
Most of those injuries were caused during sports or by accidents involving bicycles or skateboards, a review of cases reveals. But a growing number have been caused by so-called games known variously as “sack-tapping,” “nut tag,” or “Roshambo,” after a 1998 episode of the animated series “South Park” that popularized the painful practice.
Ah, the growing number: the trusty hedge that allows us journalists to vaguely suggest a trend without having real data. And I should know: I just Googled my name along with “growing number” and found that I used that exact phrase in Time articles as varied as the rise of the GED, a Russian roadtrip, merit-based financial aid and no doubt other subjects. So I am not blameless here. But I do seem to remember that there were actual numbers behind those assertions, but there wasn’t space, or the numbers were too arcane, to get into with any detail. MSNBC’s testicle-article, however, does actually give a stat, complete with pie chart and everything. Here it is, the power of numbers:
Wait: What’s this? 70% of doctor-respondents have no fucking idea what you’re talking about with all this sack-tapping stuff? Gotcha.
But all the requisite trappings of alarm–South Park started the trend, social media is egging it on–prove too much for the reporter to resist.
Let me go on the record as saying that sack-tapping is not a trend. Sack-tapping is not a societal pathology. It neither needs its own clinical diagnosis nor does it need to be urgently addressed in any of the latest anti-bullying legislation (which is most likely unnecessary itself).
As you can see from this delightful YouTube video, Poppin of the nuts, sack-tapping is something that one idiot boy does to another boy who should really not be friends with him. Enough said.