Tamas Vicsek of the University of Hungary, along with colleagues, analyzed videos of 14 waves at large Mexican soccer stadiums. Using mathematical models initially developed to study the spread of forest fires and the propagation of electrical impulses in heart tissue, Vicsek's team claims to have scientifically figured out the dynamics of the wave.
Their analysis indicates that it takes only a few dozen fans leaping to their feet with their arms up to trigger a wave. Once started, it usually rolls in a clockwise direction at a rate of about 40 feet per second, or about 20 seats per second. They say at any given time, it is about 15 seats wide.
Still with us? Good. Here's the best part:
The wave is a global phenomenon. Some call it the Mexican Wave, or "La Ola," since soccer fans initially got into it during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Its exact origin is unclear, but it gained popularity in the United States in the early 1980s. The Oakland Athletics baseball team says the first appearance of the wave at a Major League Baseball game was in Oakland on October 15, 1981.
(Emphasis mine.) Is that good news or what? Even as Dodger Stadium continues to be associated with easily distracted fans who will break out into The Wave at the drop of a beach ball, the A's are on the record as claiming credit for its introduction into American baseball. So blame Oakland. It's their fault.