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Published: Friday, 11/3/2006

The enduring 'wave'

WHERE did the time go? Seems like just yesterday a new phenomenon began sweeping across sports venues everywhere in America. Fans were caught up in a unique display of team support that quickly became known as "the wave." The phenomenon involved an entire stadium of fans taking turns standing up in a rolling sequence and wildly waving their arms overhead in unison.

To say it caught on is an understatement. The wave is 25 years old and still rolling along in stadiums and arenas across the land.

Its originator has spent the last quarter-century telling anyone who cared that it was his idea.

Of course, going by the name Krazy George Henderson probably didn't help his cause, but that didn't stop the native Californian from pursuing his claim to fame. Krazy George, who is now 62, said he spent three years perfecting the wave - which probably attracted lots of attention and returned greetings.

Krazy George adamantly insists that he, and nobody else, debuted the wave during an Oakland Athletics' playoff game against the Yankees on Oct. 15, 1981. Apparently the wave didn't instantly become a tide - the A's were eliminated by the Yankees 4-0 - but a boisterous crowd of over 47,000 put the famous cheer on the map.

And that's a critical distinction for Krazy George, who bristles when University of Washington football fans claim they first performed the wave. If truth be known-and it must - Huskies fans waved two weeks after the AL championship series game in the Coliseum.

A former U of W yell leader who says he began a vertical version of the wave in the 1970s acknowledges conducting the first horizontal wave on Oct. 31. Huskies fans kept waving the whole football season so Washington likes to take credit for popularizing the participatory cheer.

But give the former high school shop teacher turned professional cheerleader props for dreaming up a fad that, for some reason, has endured ever since in sporting contests. Sure, some fans grumble when their view of the game is briefly blocked by flailing arms, and others wish the wave would just go away. But most of them just roll with the flow.

Krazy George says his creation is like a crowd competition; nobody wants to mess it up. We have to admit, when executed properly, it's an impressive sight.

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