The Wave

krazy george

The Wave (North American) or the Mexican wave (British) is an example of metachronal rhythm achieved in a packed stadium when successive groups of spectators briefly stand and raise their arms. A metachronal rhythm refers to wavy movements produced by the sequential action (as opposed to synchronized) of structures such as cilia, segments of worms or legs.

In The Wave, each spectator is required to rise at the same time as those straight in front and behind, and slightly after the person immediately to either the right (for a clockwise wave) or the left (for a counterclockwise wave). 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, but simultaneous, counter-rotating waves have also been produced.

There are several competing claims to have originated The Wave. There are claims that the wave was created in the early 1950s, in Monterrey, Mexico, during a football match between Tigres UANL and C.F. Monterrey Rayados. Some claim that the wave was created later (by chance) at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and adopted by the National Hockey League in Canada in the late 1970s, then introduced to a wider audience (intentionally) in October 1981 at a Major League Baseball game in Oakland, California, by professional cheerleader, Krazy George, and at an American football game in Seattle, Washington.

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