Everybody else is dabbin’ it so why can’t we? Calum Henderson surveys the field and offers a tempting range of odds on the first Kiwi to dab during a live TV sports event.
Cam Newton wasn’t the first professional athlete to dab during a game, but he dabbed with such panache that it helped ignite a worldwide phenomenon.
The enigmatic Carolina Panthers quarterback’ performed his first recorded dab on October 18 last year, but the one that went fully viral happened a month later, during his team’s 27-10 defeat of the Tennessee Titans. Newton’s touchdown celebration majorly rarked up some of Titans defenders, but Newton just kept dabbing, even as he walked away from the confrontation. A legend was born.
The viral dance craze, which is generally accepted to have its origins in southern US hip hop, started trending in the middle of 2015, with Atlanta rappers Migos, along with Future and collaborator Metro Boomin, among the earliest influencers. Dab has since been performed in public by numerous athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB, EPL, WTA and European Champions Cup rugby. Earlier this year Hillary Clinton dabbed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Despite this clear sign that the craze has peaked, to date no New Zealand athletes are known to have dabbed on the big stage.
It’s only a matter of time before the floodgates open and the Kiwi sporting elite start dabbing all over the place. New Zealand’s Super Rugby promo seems to revolve entirely around dab. During the Bayley’s National Sevens tournament in Rotorua last weekend the Waikato men’s team broke out of a halftime huddle with the instruction to “dab on 3” (“One, two, three, DAB!”), but for it to truly count the dab needs to be performed by an individual – and on a bigger stage than the Bayley’s National Sevens.
So who will be the first New Zealand athlete to properly dab during a game? Here are the leading contenders according to me, a completely unqualified amateur bookmaker.
Sonny Bill Williams (Spinoff Turf Digest odds: $2.50)
The first New Zealand dab will almost certainly be performed by a rugby player, and the first major rugby event this year is the IRB World Sevens in Wellington at the end of January. All eyes will be on SBW as he begins his campaign to lead New Zealand to Olympic Sevens glory. In the 2012 Super Rugby final he transposed one popular NFL celebration, the Lambeau Leap, from Green Bay to Waikato Stadium, and now the stage is set for him to do it again. (Any other member of the NZ men’s sevens team: $1.50)
Shaun Johnson ($7.00)
If for some bizarre reason nobody dabs at the Sevens, the Auckland Nines will surely pick up the slack. What better way to announce your successful recovery from a devastating ankle injury than to go fully viral? The latest word on Shaun Johnson is that he’s “on track” to play in the Nines and therefore “on track” to dab his way back to halfway after successfully nailing a clutch sideline conversion. (Any other Kiwi at the Nines: $3.50)
Sara McGlashan ($12.00)
Let’s be realistic: no Blackcap will ever dab. The move seems well-suited to cricket – it could be deployed quite seamlessly to celebrate a catch or a wicket, or to commemorate a batting milestone – but that’s just the way it is. Our best hope is White Fern Sara McGlashan, who has been on fire for the Sydney Sixers in the inaugural season of Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League. Given the BBL’s insatiable thirst for virality, it’s shocking that none of its players appear to have dabbed yet. With the finals just around the corner, McGlashan could be the one. (Any other New Zealand cricketer: $n/a)
Steven Adams ($12.00)
Was Oklahoma City Thunder’s Steven Adams attempting to dab when he smacked that ref in the head last week? We will never know for sure. Any outward display of emotion or flair seems to go entirely against his staunch personal brand, but what if he nails a sick Russell Westbrook full-court alley-oop or something? He may be left with no other choice. (Any other NZ (Breakers) basketballer: $5.50)
Maria Tutaia ($19.00)
Netball season doesn’t start until April, otherwise the Silver Ferns would all be short-odds favourites here. Our netballers have shown an admirable willingness to embrace virality in recent years. Their love of Gangnam Style in particular endured far beyond the usual life cycle of a meme, so a cheeky dab after netting a crucial goal is entirely within the realm of possibility. (Any other Silver Ferns or ANZ Championship netballer: $7.50)
Mark Todd ($51.00)
What if… nobody dabs? The Olympics aren’t until August – who knows what the world will be like then – but if there’s one thing we can bank on it’s Mark Todd getting all our hopes up in the three-day eventing. Is it too much to ask that between now and August he learns what dabbing is and vows to do it on the podium if he wins another gold medal? (Any other NZ Olympian: $15.00)