Monday, November 9, 2009

The Wave

The wave is achieved in a packed stadium when successive groups of spectators briefly stand and raise their arms. 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. Simultaneous, counter-rotating waves have been produced.

Although it was not associated with sports, Frank Zappa is credited by some with inventing a precursor to the wave in 1969 at the Denver Pop Festival in Denver Mile High Stadium when he assigned sounds and gestures to sections of the crowd and sequenced them with hand gestures. He conducted with the audience making sounds. He would conduct waves of one, two, or three sounds at the same time. He then commented, "You guys are pretty good, you ought to get a band together and call yourselves Denver". He then walked offstage to end the performance. The exact origin of the wave is disputed. Its growth may be traced to five different sports, across three different North American countries, and Russia.

There are other reports that claim that in the 1960s, in Monterrey Mexico, during a game between Tigres and Rayados, the wave was created in the half time. The crowd was anxious, and the organizers were doing games and throwing football balls as presents in the half time because players took a lot of time returning to the field. That made people start doing the wave.

Whatever its origin, by the mid-1980s the practice was widespread throughout North America. Finally, it gained worldwide notice, and the specific name Mexican wave, during the FIFA Football World Cup in Mexico at the Estadio Universitario in Monterrey, 1986.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment