Jump for country

Do David Lee Roth proud.

Do David Lee Roth proud.

Photo By josh Fernandez

Read more at www.josh-fernandez.com.

What have the Australians done to make the world a better, more interesting place? OK, so they invented latex gloves, which are handy for picking up and prodding disgusting things. I’ll give them that. And they also gave us AC/DC, one of the world’s most loveable rock ’n’ roll bands. But to their discredit, the Aussies introduced the didgeridoo, the planet’s most annoying and senseless instrument.

It balances out. However (in between the invention of Hugh Jackman and the tank-bred tuna system), the Australians did manage to set a Guinness World Record for “Most People Jumping/Skipping Rope at the Same Time.” The record was 59,000, which was quite a lot of humans jumping rope at once. While that was an impressive feat, let’s get real: We are America—inventors of dental floss and the blog—and we won’t be outdone by an island that counts getting bitten and killed by a venomous spider in your cubicle as an “occupational hazard.”

So last Monday, 550 schools in California participated at an event (sponsored by Jamba Juice and the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance) that brought together almost 100,000 people who jumped up and down over ropes for 10 minutes. Sounds simple, but it was a true slice of American glory.

For example, at Caleb Greenwood School in River Park, physical-education teacher Mr. Spalding was more pumped up than the great Wild Bill Hickok before a duel.

“All right, I’m going to get my cowboy hat on and here we go,” Mr. Spalding said, ushering the judges out to the blacktop, where hundreds of students waited, jump ropes in hand, for the cue, which happened to be Van Halen’s “Jump,” followed by the Pointer Sisters’ “Jump for My Love.”

And they did. They jumped for 10 minutes straight. Some kids looked like they were going to fall over and die. Some looked like they could have jumped for the remainder of their lives. Some of the seventh-graders, who were initially too cool to sign up, finally grabbed ropes and jumped along with everyone else.

So, yes, Australia brought us Mel Gibson, an actor known for his exciting action flicks and drunken anti-Semitic rage, but America one-upped him with Danny Glover, the even-tempered and agreeable sidekick with a knack for getting out of a tight situation. And, more importantly, as of February 1, America holds the new world record for jump roping with a staggering number of 88,000 jumpers.

And that record, as strange as it may sound, just might be the most productive thing we’ve done as a country in the past year.