During last night’s game, some fans at Yankee Stadium started the Wave in the 7th inning of a 9-3 game, spurring some debate between myself, Sean McNally (@SeanMMcNally), and Ben Kabak (@bkabak) about the etiquette of the Wave and whether it is ever appropriate. I defended it as allowable in certain circumstances, while Sean and Ben suggested that it is never appropriate. I wanted to open the discussion up to the readers here, and I conveniently found a debate that Larry Koestler and I had on this very topic last season. I’ll provide a key excerpt from each piece, and then I hope you’ll chime in with your take in the comments:
My position on the wave is much the same. Although it may not have any inherent value, it makes the game more fun for casual fans and children. While the ideal situation would be for all fans to take attending a game as seriously as you and I might, that is simply not realistic. I know that when I take my girls to the Stadium for the first time, the odds that they will want to sit through a nine inning game and just watch the field the entire time are slim. When a wave starts, I probably will not do it with them, but I certainly do not plan on telling them to sit down. I’ll explain that there is a time and place for everything, and that it would be inappropriate to do the Wave in the late innings of a close game, or at any point during a playoff game, when all attention should be focused on the field. If the time is right, I have no problem with my kids having some fun that is not centered on the game itself.
By making the experience more entertaining, we make it more likely that these people will attend more games and eventually focus on the contest itself rather than the external stimuli. It may be slightly annoying for the hardcore fan, but I think the positives outweigh the negatives.
Kidding aside, participating in The Wave is basically the most insulting thing you can do to your team. You are literally telling everyone — as you wait to see if it’s going to make it all the way around and back to your section — that (a) You absolutely do not care about the fact that you are fortunate enough to be attending a baseball game, and (b) You have absolutely no interest in what or how your team is doing. You may as well have switched caps with a fan of the opposing team, because seeing as how they made the trip out to Yankee Stadium from wherever they’re from, they actually give a damn about the fact that a baseball game is being played.
In addition to displaying a complete and utter lack of interest in the events unfolding directly in front of you, The Wave also serves as a distraction to the folks who showed up to watch a ballgame. While playing at home may not statistically hold much of an advantage, a team’s fans still play a large role in both cheering the team on and trying to psyche the opposition out. Perhaps the most frequently recurring comment from opposing teams — at least about the old Yankee Stadium — was that once those 55,000 fans got going, there was no other noise on earth quite like it. The sound was deafening. The acoustics of new Yankee Stadium don’t allow for quite the same decibel level, but the proceedings can still get pretty loud, especially come playoff time. If people are trying to start up a Wave, it can be an immense distraction to the paying fans who know better, and also takes the crowd out of the game — how can 45,000 people will their team to victory through intense cheering and clapping when forced to shake their heads in disbelief that their fellow fans would rather throw their arms up in the air than clap for two-strike fever?
Where do you come down on this issue? Is the Wave ever appropriate?
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