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Kate’s Take: The Wave

It seems this guy isn’t a big fan of the wave. Dude, it’s a Blue Jays baseball game-you aren’t missing much.

Sometimes the best thing about going to a sporting event isn’t the action on the field, but the action in the stands. The cheers and the traditions are as much a part of the game as the players themselves, and so I thought I’d start a little series about some of my favorite sports traditions. Enjoy.

What do you do when your favorite football team is up by 40 points with two quarters to go, smack in the middle of a September heat advisory? Why the wave of course! No tradition that I can think of is as universal as this collective show of both of boredom and unity. I’ve seen it accomplished at soccer matches, NASCAR events and football stadiums from here to Timbuktu. Every kid thinks its awesome, every drunk college student thinks its hilarious, and every elderly booster just wants to enjoy their cushioned seat and not have to stand up once a minute-which makes the drunk college students boo them, multiplying their enjoyment of the act.

The origin of the wave is an elusive one. According to Wikipedia and its rather hilarious article about the “audience wave”, either it started in Montreal at the ’76 Olympics or in Canada or at the 1973 Indy 500, during which the wave never made it all the way around the oval but “it was a good attempt”. Some also credit one Bill the Beerman as its creator along with the University of Michigan or perhaps even our very favorite brothers of the west, the University of Washington.

A few common wave terms:

1. Premature waving: It can be embarrassing to talk about, but we all know it happens to everyone. Sometimes its due to alcohol (though this is more commonly related to ‘tardy waving’) and other times its because you just get too excited to wait. Either way, taking flight too soon is sure to induce groans from those around you followed quickly by your girlfriend berating you publicly for your lack of timing. It’s ok, you’ll soon have a chance to redeem yourself. (As a side note, Dave Chappellle doesn’t believe in such a phenomena NSFW)

2. The reverse wave: This one is a little more complicated, but doubly as satisfying. If the crowd is focused enough, the wave may change directions, multiply, and even cross over one another. The elusive “cross wave” is little like a BTI pick-up attempt , commonly attempted but rarely, if ever properly executed.

3. The never-ending wave: Even i can admit it: the wave gets old. Like relationships, it’s funny and pretty at the beginning stages but eventually gets to the point where the maintenance required outweighs the reward. Usually this occurs after around the tenth try around the stadium or when the action on the field picks up, whichever is first. And just like relationships, there are invitably those who don’t wish the wave to end. They hang on long after the rest of the crowd has given up, standing and sitting and trying to keep it going until they a) give up and move on or b) require a restraining order in the form of the boos radiating from their section-mates.

The wave holds a special place among my favorite sporting traditions. It is at times both mesmerizing and frustrating, uniting the crowd, both home and visitor alike, in one big cool visual effect. Whether you’re one of the blue hairs quietly sitting in your seat until its over, or one of the inebriated adults making the “whoo” sound every time you stand up, it certainly offers something for everyone and a chance to beat the boredom of a beatdown. Here’s to seeing the wave at every UK football game this season (with the Cats on top of course!)

Article written by Katie Martin