Whenever there’s an earthquake below the ocean, people who live along nearby coasts worry about tsunamis. But do you have to have water to make waves?

Absolutely not! Would you believe all you need is a bunch of people willing to stand up and cheer?

If you’ve ever been to a major sporting event or even watched one on television, you’re probably familiar with “the wave.” We’re talking about that unique cheering phenomenon in which successive groups of audience members jump to their feet and raise their hands in the air.

As section after section of cheering spectators rise to their feet and then sit down again, a wave appears to travel through the “sea” of audience members in a stadium. Not only is it fun to participate in a wave, it’s an incredible thing to watch as the wave travels around and around a huge stadium.

Curious Wonder Friends may be wondering how this craziness got started. Looking back over the history of the wave, we discovered that there’s a bit of controversy about exactly when, where and by whom the wave was invented.

Some historians point to an American League Championship Series baseball game between the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees on October 15, 1981. During that game, professional cheerleader “Krazy” George Henderson led a section-by-section cheer that some believe was the first time the wave occurred during a major sporting event.

However, there are many reports of wave-like cheers occurring well before that time. For example, some people believe the wave started at Pacific Lutheran University basketball games during the early 1960s.

There are also reports that the wave was done at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, as well as at many National Hockey League games in Canada in the late 1970s. Regardless of where and when the wave was invented, one thing we know for sure is that it became famous in the early 1980s at Seattle Seahawks football games at the Kingdome in Seattle, Washington.

Outside of North America, many people saw the wave for the first time during the 1986 FIFA World Cup soccer matches in Mexico. For this reason, the wave is known as “the Mexican wave” in many parts of the world. Some people even call it la ola — or just ola — from the Spanish word for “wave.”

The wave has taken on many forms over the years. There are now fast waves, slow waves and even simultaneous waves moving in different directions around a stadium.

On August 23, 2008, 168,000 fans at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee, set the Guinness World Record for most people doing the wave at once.

 

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