Stateside: #BanTheWave

Mass participation abomination The Wave should have stayed in the 1980s, where it belongs. Photo / Christine Cornege
Mass participation abomination The Wave should have stayed in the 1980s, where it belongs. Photo / Christine Cornege

What's the most important topic in sport right now?

Maybe it's whether drugs cheats like Maria Sharapova deserve a second chance after serving suspensions? Or how about the long-term health of athletes who suffer head knocks?

Both worthy debates but, to this fan, both fall behind the issue that most desperately needs a solution: banning The Wave. (Since this is Stateside, it will be referred to as The Wave, rather than the Mexican Wave, given it was invented and named as such in the United States in the late 1970s, well before the rest of the world saw it at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.)

Forget performance-enhancing drugs and discount brain injuries (please don't actually do that) - The Wave is the biggest scourge in sport.

This may sound like a classic old-man take, but it ruins perfectly good sports games and turns otherwise-reasonable fans into packs of mindless automatons.

Don't believe me? Then listen to the athletes. Or instead, read all about it in the New York Daily News, which this week produced an urgent piece of journalism sparked by the #BanTheWave hashtag made famous by Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard.

A fan favourite with an over-powering fastball, Syndergaard first touched on the polarising celebration last season, tweeting, "Very happy we won ... but I want the name and address of the person who started the 'Wave' tonight #banthewave #resisttheurge".

The reason athletes like Syndergaard dislike The Wave is the same reason a fair segment of match-going punters shudder when it starts rolling around a stadium: it's a needless distraction from the action on the field, the action people have paid good money to watch.

"It's brutal," New York Yankees pitcher Tyler Clippard said of The Wave. "It just is annoying from a player's standpoint. You just feel like the fans aren't engaged in the game. When they're doing that, they're focused on other things.

"And it's like, why are you here if you're not focused on the game? You know what I mean? So I guess from a player's standpoint, that's kind of how we see it."

That's how I see it, too. There's nothing wrong with fan engagement - if anything, fans in New Zealand need more of it. But supporters should strive to be more creative than senselessly throwing their arms into the air just because the person sitting to their left did likewise, or, even worse, as anyone who's been to a cricket game in this country knows, senselessly throwing assorted detritus in the air.

The Wave had its moment: the 1980s. And, like spandex and disco, that's where it should have stayed.

It's time, people. It's time. #BanTheWave.

'Kevin Cash: A tribute to a legacy'

Plus, why bother with The Wave in baseball, when any entertainment not found on the field can instead be gleaned from the rather amusing 'feud' between Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona and Tampa Bay Rays counterpart Kevin Cash?

Cash played under Francona when the former was managing the Boston Red Sox, and Cash was part of Francona's coaching staff at the Indians before leaving to take the top gig at the Rays.

And the pair clearly enjoyed quite the love-hate relationship, based on the way Francona has welcomed Cash back to Cleveland the last few seasons.

First that warm welcome came in the form of a few friendly prank calls made to the visitors' manager's office, constantly interrupting Cash only to hang up once the calls were answered, along with a bit of graffiti written on Cash's car windscreen.

Then it extended to some quality trash talk on the big screen towering over centrefield at the Cleveland ballpark, with Cash last season being greeted by the display of his truly awful career batting statistics, alongside the message, "Kevin Cash: A tribute to a legacy".

And this week, with the Rays again in town, Francona really kicked it up a notch. Asked beforehand whether he had anything planned, the Cleveland coach replied, "Something small, like most of his stats." And he delivered, once more on the big screen.

"How bad was Kevin Cash at the plate?" asked the message, shown while the Rays were warming up. "In the history of Major League Baseball, among all non-pitchers with at least 650 plate appearances, Kevin Cash has the fifth-worst OPS+ of all time."

OPS+ is an advanced statistic that captures every bit of value a hitter provides at the plate - or in this case captures the lack of value - but you don't need to know anything about baseball to know that was a pretty good burn.

- NZ Herald

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