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The wave (known as the Mexican wave in the anglosphere outside North America) is an example of metachronal rhythm achieved in a packed stadium when successive groups of spectators briefly stand, yell, and raise their arms. Immediately upon stretching to full height, the spectator returns to the usual seated position.
The result is a wave of standing spectators that travels through the crowd, even though individual spectators never move away from their seats. In many large arenas the crowd is seated in a contiguous circuit all the way around the sport field, and so the wave is able to travel continuously around the arena; in discontiguous seating arrangements, the wave can instead reflect back and forth through the crowd. When the gap in seating is narrow, the wave can sometimes pass through it. Usually only one wave crest will be present at any given time in an arena. Simultaneous, counter-rotating waves have been produced.
Origins and variations 
While there is general disagreement about the precise origin of the wave, most stories of the phenomenon's origin, suggest that the wave first started appearing at North American sporting events during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Canadian sports fans make claims of having created waves during the late 1970s at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, National Hockey League games in Canada, and at Vancouver Whitecaps games, where crowds were alleged to have performed the wave for a commercial in which the slogan was "Catch the Wave."
Krazy George led a wave in October 15, 1981 at a Major League Baseball game in Oakland, California. This wave was broadcast on TV, and George owns a videotape of the event, which he uses to bolster his claim as the inventor of the wave. On October 31, 1981, a wave was created at a UW football game in Seattle, and the cheer continued to appear during the rest of that year's football season. Although the people who created the first wave in Seattle acknowledge Krazy George's wave at a baseball stadium, they claim to have popularized the phenomenon, since Krazy George's wave was a one-time event.
There is also an unconfirmed claim that on June 24, 1981, while waiting for President Ronald Reagan to take the podium at the U.S.A. Jaycees National Convention at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas, the Jaycee members and their guests – about 10,000 people – began doing the wave. It lasted for about three or four minutes before the Secret Service requested that they stop, presumably because it made it difficult to monitor the crowd.
Krazy George 
Some claim that the first appearance of the wave was a section by section cheer at a Major League Baseball game that was led by professional cheerleader Krazy George Henderson in Oakland, California on October 15, 1981, in an American League Championship Series game between the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees.
Krazy George believes that the wave originally was inspired by accident when he was leading cheers at a National Hockey League game at the Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His routine was to have one side of the arena jump and cheer, then have the opposite side respond. One night in late 1980, there was a delayed response from one section of fans, leading to them jumping to their feet a few seconds later than the section beside them. The next section of fans followed suit, and the first wave circled the Northlands Coliseum of its own accord. Krazy George then perfected the method for initiating a wave cheer with the Edmonton fans, and carried the wave with him to other venues, culminating with the aforementioned televised Major League Baseball game.
University of Washington 
Many claim that the first wave originated in Seattle at the University of Washington's Husky Stadium on October 31, 1981, at the prompting of Dave Hunter (Husky band trumpet player) and Robb Weller (later Entertainment Tonight co-host, and then a television producer). Contrary to Weller's account, former Washington yell leader Tolly Allen has also claimed credit for the first wave. Weller, a Washington graduate, was the guest yell-king during the Huskies' homecoming football game against the Stanford University Cardinal (led by junior quarterback John Elway). Weller's initial concept for the wave was for it to travel vertically, from the bottom of the stands to the top, within the UW student section. Weller claimed to have done this at games when he was yell king. When that was met with limited interest, Weller then came up with the idea to move the wave from top to bottom.
This failed miserably, as it was necessary to turn backward to see the wave progressing downward. Weller then gave up and returned his attention to the game. However, some fans, including Lee Eckmann and Bob Erickson, including Dave Hunter, toward the open (East) end of the stadium on the student side started yelling "sideways". Weller did not hear them, but the students tried to initiate a "sideways" wave on their own. After a few attempts, and more yelling of "sideways" by students, Weller took notice. He instructed the UW cheerleaders to stand at different sections of the stadium and they in turn instructed the fans to stand up when Weller ran past . He moved along the track toward the open end of the stadium, then ran along the track toward the closed end of the stadium, in front of the student section. After a couple of tries, this caught on, and continued around the entire Husky Stadium, and was repeated throughout the rest of the game and the season. Longtime UW band director Bill Bissell also claimed co-creator credit with Weller, suggesting that the wave was devised by both of them prior to the game. The following week, the wave appeared at Seattle Seahawks professional football games in the Kingdome. While the exact origins of the wave may be in dispute, Seattle was the first place to routinely perform it. It became ubiquitous at every single sporting event in the area in the early 80s, and it has been a staple of Seattle sports ever since.
University of Michigan 
In the early fall of 1983, the Michigan Wolverines played the Huskies in Seattle and brought the wave back to Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. A letter to the sports editor of The New York Times claimed, "There are three reasons why the wave caught on at Michigan Wolverine games: It gave the fans something to do when the team was leading its opponent by 40 points, it was thrilling and exciting to see 105,000 people in the stands moving and cheering, and Bo Schembechler asked us not to do it." The fans responded to his request by doing more waves, including "Silent Waves" (standing and waving arms without cheering), "Shsh Waves" (replacing the cheering with a "shshing" sound), the "Fast Wave," the "Slow Wave," and two simultaneous waves traveling in opposite directions. The following spring, fans who had enjoyed the wave in Ann Arbor introduced it to the nearby Tiger Stadium in Detroit. The Tigers won the World Series that year and appeared on many televised games throughout 1984, so people all over America saw it.
1986 FIFA World Cup 
In June 1986, the wave was first brought to world-wide attention when it was displayed at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. For many people living outside of North America, this was the first time they ever saw the phenomenon. As a result, English speakers outside of North America refer to the phenomenon as the "Mexican wave".
Monterrey, Mexico 
The wave was done in Monterrey, Mexico, during a football match between Tigres UANL and C.F. Monterrey. During the half time, the players were taking longer than expected to return to the field, the crowd grew anxious, and the organizers were trying to entertain the crowd and throwing match balls as presents. People were getting more and more creative with their cheer, and thus created "la ola" (the wave), which after a few attempts made its way all the way around the stadium.
In Mexico, the Mexican wave was popularized through a show called "Siempre en Domingo" (always on Sunday) by Raul Velazco.
Global broadcasts 
The 1984 Rose Bowl was broadcast outside North America on January 2, 1984, introducing other countries to the wave as UCLA and Illinois fans kept it going around the Rose Bowl Stadium.
The wave was also broadcast internationally during the 1984 Olympic football final between Brazil and France on August 11, when it was done among the 100,000 in attendance at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena.
The 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico was broadcast to a global audience, and the wave was popularized world-wide after featuring during the tournament. The finals in Mexico was the first time that many people living outside North America had seen the phenomenon. As a result, English speakers outside of North America call it the "Mexican wave." In Germany, Italy, and other countries the wave is called "la ola" (or simply ola) from the Spanish word for "wave", while in Portuguese-speaking countries, such as Brazil, it is translated to a onda, but more commonly [o] ondão (augmentative) or simply onda.
In Singapore the wave is known as the Kallang Wave, and is widely seen as a symbol of Singaporean national identity. It is routinely performed at football matches involving the Singapore national football team or Singapore LIONSXII. The Kallang Wave is named after the location of the National Stadium in Kallang.
Current appearances 
Today, the wave is often seen during FIFA World Cup events when the spectators want to show appreciation for the match or during a lull in the action on the sports field to amuse themselves. There is some controversy as to when the wave is appropriate to perform during a sporting event. Many fans feel that the wave should not be performed in important situations during the game.
In Melbourne, Australia, waves commonly travel in a counterclockwise direction. Prior to the redevelopment of the Melbourne Cricket Ground between 2002 and 2006, spectators seated in the Members' Stand (reserved for members of the Melbourne Cricket Club) would not participate in a Mexican wave, and would be booed by other spectators at the ground, before the wave would resume on the other side of the stand. Sociologist John Carroll described the practice of "booing the Members" as dismissive of any claim to authority or superior social status on the members' part, although good-natured and based on the egalitarian nature of watching sports. (As a postscript to the "booing the Members" phenomenon, even when the Members stand was closed due to the reconstruction work, the crowd would still boo, despite the Members' stand being completely empty. When the Mexican Wave was banned large sections of the Members participated in the protest waves). Such a feature is also observed at Lords, where the Members in the pavilion rarely participate to the boos of the crowd.
In 2002, Tamás Vicsek of the Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary along with his colleagues analyzed videos of 14 waves at large Mexican football stadiums, developing a standard model of wave behavior (published in the September 12 issue of Nature). He found that it takes only the actions of a few dozen fans to trigger a wave. Once started, it usually rolls in a clockwise direction at a rate of about 12 m/s (40 ft/s), or about 22 seats per second. At any given time the wave is about 15 seats wide. These observations appear to be applicable across different cultures and sports, though details vary in individual cases.
Size records 
At the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sharpie 500, held at Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tennessee on August 23, 2008, 168,000 people performed the wave to set a new Guinness World Record.
Cricket Australia has banned the wave from all international grounds due to objects being, either unintentionally or deliberately, thrown into the air at the same time. These include plastic cups containing beer, hot food items, or even urine, which affects the other spectators around the person who threw it. Anyone who attempts to start a wave will be ejected from the ground. The banning of the wave has been met with a mostly negative response from Australia's sports-going public.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: The wave|
- How To Do the Wave at Michigan Stadium
- 'Krazy' Inventor of the Wave Celebrates, JANIE McCAULEY, The Washington Post
- Somebody’s GOTTA Do It: Celebrating the Bay Area’s Under-appreciated Jobs, Jimmy Christopher, The Wave Magazine (retrieved 22 August 2010 at Internet Archive Wayback Machine)
- "On This Day: Krazy George Henderson Leads First Crowd Wave". Findingdulcinea.com. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- "University of Washington - Official Athletic Site :: Traditions". Gohuskies.collegesports.com. 1981-10-31. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- "The Purple Haze". Static.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- "Don't Take My Wave Away". The New York Times. 1984-07-08. p. Late City Final Edition, Section 5, Page 2, Column 5.
- Andy Jackson (Jun 11 2010) ...Fan Crazes Australian Four Four Two. Retrieved 25 August 2011
- The 100 greatest World Cup moments: 94. THE MEXICAN WAVE The Independent. Retrieved 25 August 2011
- José Touré: "It was at the Olympic Games that I realised I was an athlete" FIFA.com. Retrieved 25 August 2011
- "Mexican Wave secrets revealed". BBC News. 12 September 2002. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
- "Daily Nebraskan - Wave goodbye to stadium fad". Media.www.dailynebraskan.com. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- "AM - Waugh set for last stand at MCG". Abc.net.au. 2003-12-26. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- "Sports Factor - 14/09/01: Sports Sacred Sites". Ausport.gov.au. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- I. Farkas, D. Helbing, T. Vicsek (12 September 2002). "Mexican waves in an excitable medium" (PDF). Nature 419 (6903): 131–2. doi:10.1038/419131a. PMID 12226653. ISSN 0028-0836. Retrieved 2007-02-10. Details of the research are at Mexican wave (La Ola) A quantitative analysis of the propagating human wave
- "Australian cricket bans Mexican wave". Australian Associated Press. 2007-02-01. Retrieved 2007-02-01.
- "Authorities call for Melbourne cricket fans to stick to measures" (Press release). Cricket Australia. 2007-02-01. Retrieved 2007-02-01.