It's one of the few universal signs left to mankind, and allows us to express a whole tirade in a single gesture.
The middle finger has been around since mankind's earliest recorded histories, long before cameras and television were here to record people doling it out in public.
Now, with the power of these technologies, we have the ability capture this hallowed gesture in its most open and powerful arena—on full display in front of thousands at sporting events across the world.
Middle fingers fired off during televised sporting competitions are the reason Tivo was invented (unconfirmed), so in the name of the mighty rewind and replay buttons, here are 20 athlete throwing up the only finger that matters.
NSFW Warning: there will be middle fingers and obscene gestures throughout this slide show. Duh.
Pretty much anything goes in UFC fighting, and although fingers are usually out of play for combatants, Nate Diaz put his to use before the third round of a fight against Donald Cerrone in 2012.
It was a thorough gesture by Diaz, who perhaps didn’t think he made his distaste for Cerrone clear enough when he knocked off his cowboy hat in a pre-fight press conference.
Pop Culture Equivalent: Middle finger Christmas lights.
After being demoted to second string, this goalkeeper from Farmington High School decided to throw in the towel with mythical flair—knocking the puck into his own goal and brandishing double birds as he skated from the ice.
Pop Culture Equivalent: Cartman going home.
Former Louisville lineman Brian Giacomini delivered a message to every Kentucky fan in Commonwealth Stadium before the beginning of a 2007 football game.
I can’t repeat the message, but I feel like everyone gets the point. Also worthy of noting is how close Giacomini’s middle finger is to a group of onlooking children. You really showed ‘em, Breno.
Pop Culture Equivalent: “...we’re going to space.”
After being penalized a lap for speeding on pit row, NASCAR driver Kyle Busch took a stand.
Busch reportedly yelled into his radio “I’m the only one who will stand up to [NASCAR]!” and flashed this pristine, steady middle finger at a pit row official in front of his car.
NASCAR fans continue to set their clocks forward a minute every year in celebration of this glorious occasion (unconfirmed).
Pop Culture Equivalent: Ricky Bobby’s middle finger he bought at Target.
Fourth row, third from the left.
Former Florida Marlins pitcher John Buck was told to “act goofy” during this 2012 team photo. Buck might’ve missed the point, but nobody will ever say he didn’t take full advantage of the situation.
Pop Culture Equivalent: Mr. Rodgers playfully flicking off a table of children. Yes, it happened.
Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk managed to slip through the line and sack St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford in the backfield during a 2011 game. He celebrates by flipping them a bird that says “It was only a matters of times, punks.”
Pop Culture Equivalent: Adele flipping off producers at the Brit Awards.
While trying to illustrate his former hand injuries, Charles Barkley did a very Charles Barkley thing and offered the big one to his TNT co-anchors on live air.
Whoever is being paid to censor Barkley on live television is either being paid too much, or not enough.
Pop Culture Equivalent: “I’ve made a huge mistake.”
It was one of the most surprising, non-surprising things that has ever happened during the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
MIA isn’t an athlete, obviously. But she flipped off a country during its biggest sporting event of the year. We’ll let her in the club.
Pop Culture Equivalent: This girl who flipped off a judge.
He doesn’t actually give anyone the official middle finger, but this Italian handball player does everything but strip down and moon walk off the court to CeeLo Green’s “F*ck You!” after receiving a smooch from an opponent.
Pop Culture Equivalent: Ronnie from Role Models.
After a dubious neutral zone infraction penalty was called against the Tennessee Titan’s defense in a 2010 game against the Denver Broncos, defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil directed the “Hawaiian peace sign” at referees.
Luckily for sensitive viewers at home, it was only a totally clear close-up of the gesture.
Pop Culture Equivalent: Obama’s itchy finger.
After struggling for most of a 2012 game against Villanova, St. Joseph’s Halil Kanacevic finally nailed a three to put his team up in the game.
Of course, he celebrated by double-birding the crowd who had been riding him all night.
Karma would have its revenge, however; Kanacevic went on to blow two crucial free throws and commit a turnover and sealed his team’s fate and lost it the game.
Pop Culture Equivalent: This kid flipping the bird, then immediately regretting it.
This is Sean Williams, former New Jersey forward, issuing a textbook run-and-gun middle finger during a cranky post game handshake line.
I believe that’s all needs be said in this case.
Pop Culture Equivalent: The “Robert Goulet.”
Before entering the 2009 draft, Blake Griffin photographed what pick he would be taken in a picture with several young ladies.
We’ve yet to confirm whether he plans on traveling back and time and telling his younger self to stop flipping off cameras.
Pop Culture Equivalent: “Welcome to the Goodie Room!”