This is a wave I can get into

It’s been a while since I dabbled in the sports world in my column, and this might at first sound like a sports-related topic, but sports is secondary in this heartwarming tale.

I don’t know how, when, and why it started, but I have never been a fan of the wave at sporting events.

You know the tradition of folks standing, sections at a time, holding their arms up in the air and shouting, until what looks like a human wave makes it around the whole stadium, arena, rink, etc.

I am the minority in this way of thinking, because thousands upon thousands of fans continue to play the part of a human tsunami each day.

I had one pal who agreed with me. When we went to Sox games we would sit defiantly with our arms in the shape of an X when the wave splashed through our section. We deemed ourselves the Wave Busters.

But there is a new wave out there that has absolutely captured my heart and soul. I had heard about it, but until last weekend never saw it in action. It was during a nationally-televised college football game.

It happens at the University of Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium on the university’s campus.

Also on that university’s campus is the renown University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

In February of 2017, the hospital opened a new building for its young patients, a building that rises 14 stories into the Iowa City sky.

The 12th story of the hospital was designed to be a common, public area where patients, family and staff could gather socially. The building is round, so the entire 360 degrees provides a panoramic view of the campus and beyond — including every inch of the Kinnick Stadium playing field.

The hospital cares for children not only from all over Iowa, but all over the U.S. and the world as well — anything from kids with major heart operations to kids battling cancer, and everything in between.

Even prior to the erection of the new building, most Iowa Hawkeye men and women athletes, from all sports, took an active role in bringing a smile to the young patients by visiting them at the hospital.

Well, last year, with the opening of the new building, hospital staff made the 12th floor area a “tailgating” area with TVs and snacks during Hawkeye home football games.

The idea came up that the little fans high in the sky should be acknowledged and a grass roots fan effort came up with the idea to have everyone in the stadium wave to the kids at the end of the first quarter.

No one needed to be prompted and the first time it happened, everyone — fans, players (even the visiting team), referees, coaches, concession workers, nearly 80,000 strong, gave the kids a minute-long wave.

A tradition was born, and last Saturday I witnessed it on live on TV for the first time.

It took my breath away. It was one of the most awesome displays of love and friendship I have ever seen.

It wasn’t a phony “well everyone is doing it” thing. Everyone was smiling and heartily waving at the kids in the sky, and they and the family and staff were responding in kind.

I was alone watching the game and I found myself waving to the kids through my TV screen.

It so restored my faith in humankind. Despite all the bad that gets all the press, there are so many more good people out there than bad. It’s just that we never see them.

But last weekend I saw it in a wave — a seemingly small gesture, yet with oceans of meaning. Well done brothers and sisters in Iowa — a landlocked state with the biggest wave in the world.

davejolivet@anchornews.org


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