Just who started the wave, and why won't it end?
-- Rico, the net
People are actually fighting to claim the title of Father of the Wave. More amazing, one of the candidates is Rob Weller, the smiley face from Entertainment Tonight. He has the highest profile of all the claimants, and he is backed by the full force of the University of Washington Huskies' football organization. But my money's on "Krazy" George Henderson, the sentimental favorite. In addition to a cool name, Krazy has a video and lots of loyal witnesses.
The world at large first saw the wave on a telecast of a 1986 World Cup soccer tournament from Mexico City. For this reason, in England and some other soccer-loving countries, it's called the Mexican wave. But by '86, it was already a fixture in the U.S. The Huskies' version of the birth of the wave says that Rob Weller, a '70s UW grad, visited the campus and assumed his old post as head cheerleader on October 31, 1981, when Washington played Stanford. During the exciting third quarter, they say, Weller was struck by the thunderbolt that is now the wave. The school already had a cheer that involved a single section of fans who stood up one row at a time, from the bottom to the top. Weller sez he and the band director managed to turn that cheer on its side and start the wave. It went all the way around the stadium, with everyone standing at the end. So, that's Washington's story, and they're sticking to it.
Krazy George is a sort of featherless San Diego Chicken. He rents out his cheerleader services to college and pro teams. Krazy says the thing he's always been best at is attracting attention. According to the tape of the game and eyewitness comments, Krazy led a stand-up-sit-down form of the wave on October 15, 1981, at the Oakland Coliseum during a nationally televised playoff game between the As and the Yankees. Krazy admits it took a few tries, but the sellout crowd made it work. And 16 days before the Huskies. Krazy also claims he was doing a modified version of the wave at hockey games in Colorado long before 1981.
Weller and Washington sneer at Krazy's wave, saying it was too stiff and wasn't really a wave at all. Krazy points to his video and calls anybody who doubts him a doggone liar, and the whole Huskies story a cover-up to rob him of the recognition. So "who invented the wave" might be like "who invented the calendar" or "who invented the zero." Perhaps the wave arose spontaneously in two different cultures. But personally, I just gotta go with Krazy.