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Wash the ‘wave’ out

Observer Viewpoint | Friday, November 18, 2005

It started out like any other beautiful Saturday afternoon at Notre Dame Stadium. The sun was shining, I couldn’t see my own breath and the two girls in front of me who find their cell phones more fascinating than the sixth-best football team in the country decided to leave early. It was just another Notre Dame romp, going off without a hitch.

And then it happened – people started doing the wave. I never thought I’d see the day when I would yell at the alumni to sit down, but low and behold, all of Notre Dame Stadium was jumping up and down as if University President Father John Jenkins had cancelled classes for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (please?).

The Chambers 21st Century Dictionary defines the wave as “a rippling wave effect that passes right around a stadium full of spectators, achieved when all the spectators in turn stand up with their arms raised and then sit down again with their arms lowered.” Thanks Chambers, but here’s my definition of the wave: stupid.

Notre Dame has a long history of tough guys: Sthuldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden, not to mention Gipp, Parseghian, Bettis and Weis.

And then this is the best we fans can do? Flail our arms effeminately and make a noise the Pillsbury Doughboy copyrighted years ago? It’s enough to make Knute Rockne cry.

According to Tony Burton, author of “Western Mexico: A Traveler’s Treasury,” the wave first started popping up in the 1980s.

While no one is entirely sure who gave rise to the very first wave, those claiming responsibility are the Oakland Raiders, the Seattle Mariners and the University of Washington.

Think about those origins for a second. First, anything to come out of 1980s pop culture is tacky and lame. I mean fanny packs? Are you serious? Second, it figures that the same geniuses who hired Tyrone Willingham in 2005 also unleashed the low-point of human expression that is the wave.

The wave is done when one team is being blown out and the crowd has lost interest in the game. Thus, doing the wave is either a sign of disrespect to the away team or a sign of giving up on the home team. The wave doesn’t belong in Notre Dame Stadium, where we respect our opponents and we worship our football team. It’s like someone starting the “arm wave” in the middle of the Our Father at the Basilica.

It’s no coincidence that immediately after the crowd started doing the wave, Brady Quinn threw his first interception in 131 attempts. The football gods had to punish our infidelity, so they came down from their heavens and clipped Brady Quinn’s anatomically perfect right arm so that the ball would land in the waiting hands of Navy’s DuJuan Price.

If you want to do the wave, go to Wisconsin, but if you want to see college football the way it was meant to be, then come the University of Notre Dame, where tradition means a little more. Oh, and alumni? Now you can stand up.