Witness The ‘Planking’ Phenomenon Gripping UT Campus (Slideshow)

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You got a body, you got a plank.

That’s the motto behind the online phenomenon known as planking. It’s simple really; no equipment required. Just lie* face down, stiff as a board in an unusual location and snap a photo.

Sounds silly, right? The more than 250,000 fans on the Planking Facebook page don’t think so.

The activity, which was created in 2006 by two British students, has become an international fad—think flash mobs, Silly Bandz, or UGG boots.

Capitalizing on the thrill factor, planking can vary from harmless to hazardous, depending on the location of the act. It’s a series of one-ups; who can pull off the most dangerous plank?

A man from Brisbane, Australia, paid the ultimate price for his plank ambition. The 20-year-old fell to his death earlier this month after attempting to plank on a seventh-story balcony railing, causing Australian authorities to consider creating anti-planking laws.

But that hasn’t stopped its infiltration into American culture—and Austin is no exception.

The Planking Austin Facebook page features pictures of locals laying flat in locations that include Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, in front of a Gatti’s Pizza, and on Sixth Street.

Now the UT campus is getting some plank action. Recent graduate Stephen Mahoney, BS ’10, got his start about a month ago after he saw a rugby player on TV plank after scoring.

Ever since, Mahoney has been planking on some of UT’s most famous landmarks (see slideshow).

“Planking is an expression of creativity and can be both an art and a feat of athleticism,” Mahoney says. “A plank is usually performed in a place that looks difficult to balance on or get to.”

Mahoney and the UT Rugby team also pulled off a group plank while in Philadelphia for the Collegiate Rugby Championship. Group planks are considered to be an especially tremendous feat.

Popping up everywhere from Sydney to Sid Richardson Hall, it is evident that planking has nowhere to go but up—or down that is.

Are you a planker? Send us your photos!

Photos courtesy of Stephen Mahoney

*An earlier version of this article confused lay with lie. It is now fixed.


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