The Mexican wave is a timed and pulsating movement in large group gatherings where each person stands up quickly with their arms up above their heads in a timed and deliberate way to the person beside, behind and in front of them. This creates an illusion in large crowds of a travelling wave made up of rhythmical human movement.

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Sometimes the wave can seem like it has a life of its own. The wave typically starts in stadiums where it can follow the crowds of people around the stadium in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. So long as everyone is of the same mind and does their part the wave can be a spectacular thing to behold or be a part of.


The History of the Mexican Wave

It’s difficult to pinpoint where the Mexican wave originated. For all we know the ancient Greeks could have started it during their Olympic games. What we do know is that the modern version originated in North American sports games in the 60’s and 70’s.

Much of the world does not watch North American sports games such as football, baseball or basketball, so many were not familiar with it outside of North America originally. The wave and the “Mexican” prefix became popular outside North America during the 1986 world cup in Mexico where much of the world saw it for the first time.

Ever since then the Mexican wave shows up at various worldwide sporting events from soccer, American football to rugby and basketball.

Starting a Wave

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Many original waves were started by players themselves who encouraged fans to rise as they ran around the field or court.

Other means of starting waves originate with the fans themselves; a few dozen fans in agreement can start a stadium wide Mexican wave. The wave can be several seats wide but usually full from top to bottom of the stadium as it travels by.  

While not exactly a scientific phenomenon, scientists from the University of Budapest have taken time out to investigate and calculate some statistics about Mexican waves. As stated above a few dozen, approximately 30 fans are all it takes to begin a wave. They travel at around 20 seats per second and usually go in a clockwise direction.

A few things are clear from this research, you cannot start waves during exciting parts of the game where most of the crowd are fixated on the game at hand and you definitely need your section primed and ready and a willing to stand up and wave at the same to start a wave and you certainly need a willing crowd.

 The end of a wave signifies a crowd’s boredom of it; they get tired or start to watch the game again. Short attention spans and/or bored people will put an end to any crowd movement