Carson: Please stop The Wave
Alex Carson | Monday, September 7, 2015
Alright friends, we need to talk.
Not about this weekend’s slate of college football action or the baseball pennant race. Nah, I want to talk about something that happens off the field, something the fans do rather than the players.
The Wave. Just stop it.
Now, once upon a time, I was an average kid. Whenever I’d go to a minor-league baseball game or high school football game, I always wanted the crowd to do the wave. I thought it was cool and kind of funny, and there was nothing else gathering my attention on the playing field.
Once, along with a few friends at a game, I even started a wave that circled around Indianapolis’ Victory Field. It was awesome.
But I’m not 10 years old any more.
Let’s take a trip back in time, one through the oft-debated origins of The Wave in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Oakland Athletics fans claim they “invented it” in 1981, while others claim it happened at their stadium earlier on. Later that year, it was seen at a football game at the University of Washington — yes, the Huskies used to actually be good at that sport — and a couple years later, the cheer became popular at Michigan and Detroit Tigers games.
That catches us up to where I want to be and where, for perhaps the first time ever, I’m going to cite a so-called “Michigan Man” in something I’ve written.
A letter to the editor of The New York Times stated three reasons for why the cheer caught on at Michigan Stadium: “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.”
Now, generally speaking, I’m all for things that would’ve made the former Michigan coach upset. So we’ll move past that point and say I agree with sports fans from the 1980s.
Then there’s the supposed thrill and excitement that come with The Wave. While, yes, as a child, I thought the cheer was neat to watch, it’s almost certainly watched too often in this world to carry the same sense of excitement. Instead of finding something new — and better — to do, we’ve simply run the same thing over and over again for more than 30 years. That’s lazy, and it gets a little boring.
But tracing back to the first point gives us the most important part of that letter.
You see, it was a thing for the fans to do once the game got boring — “leading its opponent by 40 points,” the author says.
As sports fans, we often pay good money to go to games and be entertained — and when the event is past entertaining, I can wholeheartedly get behind a reason to suddenly start supplying the desired effect.
But what’s killed The Wave and made it insufferable is when fans try to start it at the wrong time.
If you go to a baseball game and it’s the third inning, it’s maybe not the best time for The Wave. If you’re bored after an hour of baseball, why are you at the park in the first place?
Or let’s say it’s a football game. Maybe one under the lights when the home team’s up three scores in the third quarter. Everyone’s pretty hyped up and still into the game. There are important plays left to happen if your team’s going to close out the win in a comfortable fashion. You cannot be bored yet as a sports fan.
But by starting up The Wave, you disrespect the players on the field — you know, the ones you paid to see — deciding it’s time for you to entertain yourselves.
On its own, in the abstract, The Wave is a fine thing. Sure, it’s a relic of what people thought was cool 30 years ago, but can be kind of neat if it’s done right.
In the fourth quarter, when it’s a five-score lead and the second-string defense is in? That’s your time for The Wave.
But people can’t be trusted with the great responsibility of conducting it right.
So we just have to shut it down, at all costs. Kill it. Before it grows any bigger.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.