Players: The Texas Rangers baseball organization and those against the wave; wave fans at the nation's baseball games
The Opening Serve: You've seen it at Wimbledon and the World Cup games, but Chuck Morgan, the Texas Rangers' public announcer and vice president of ballpark entertainment, wants no piece of "The Wave" at Ranger's Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. "We're not trying to ban anything," said Morgan in a Fox Sports report. "My philosophy has always been a guy paid his way to get in, and as long as he obeys the rules, doesn't hurt anyone or doesn't offend anyone, then that's fine. There's just a faction of fans that don't like the wave." This season Morgan and The Rangers began playing anti-wave messages on their super-sized video board during games, stating that Rangers Ballpark is a "No Wave Zone," and have posted signs asking fans not to participate in any wave-making. "Any children doing the wave will be sold to the circus," warns one of the signs. "Do not do the wave in the ballpark, doing the wave is safe at pro football games and Miley Cyrus concerts." These signs are a relief to Greg Holland, a fan who started Stopthewave.net two years ago. "There is nothing worse … than being stuck in a section with someone who is relentless in trying to get the wave started, especially if they're sitting in front of you," Holland said in an ESPN report. "To me, doing the wave is basically giving the middle finger to the guys on the field. You're telling them you don't care about what's going on and that they are not entertaining you."
The Return Volley: The anti-wave PSAs have sparked a defiant rebellion and emboldened fans. "There is a segment of people who see our sign and do the wave," an unnamed Rangers executive told the Los Angeles Times. "It's actually going stronger than ever." Holland acknowledged the futility of the Rangers' efforts. "They [the warnings] aren't really working, but it's good to see the team putting some effort to inform the fans when not to do it," said Holland to NBC. Ed Hirt, a professor at Indiana University, explained the unifying power of the wave. "It's a comforting thing to have camaraderie with others," said Hirt in the Los Angeles Times. "It makes you feel connected." Combine this with being told what to do and not do only fuels more wave attempts, he argues. "Some people have a sense of obstinacy," Hirt said. "If you tell me I can't do something, that makes me want to do it even more … especially in a crowd environment where I think maybe I'm more anonymous and I can get away with it."
What They Say They're Fighting About: Whether or not the wave has a place at the baseball game. Clearly, the fans and The Rangers have spoken, and they are divided.
What They're Really Fighting About: If the wave-ban is un-American. Fans are rebelling to express disagreement, and it seems possible that those who previously had no interest in the wave are joining in just in protest. The Rangers organization and purists like Holland argue that wavers are casual fans with no respect for players on the field.
Who's Winning Now: The pro-wave movement. There is no verse in "Take Me Out to The Ballgame" that tells audiences what form and how they should celebrate. It's just: "root, root-root for the home team." Now, Rangers officials and Holland acknowledge that they may have awoken a sleeping giant. Fans have shrugged off the stigma of being compared to Miley Cyrus fans. Now, The Rangers are faced with the problem of quashing these rogue waves but have to do so in a way so as not to antagonize more wavers.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.