By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Much respect to the Iowa cheerleaders, and to the small group of fans, who gathered outside an empty Kinnick Stadium this past Saturday to carry on the tradition of the Wave.
Their kindness and forethought helped to create a special moment, and showed that not even a life-changing global pandemic can stop what is now arguably the greatest tradition in college football, maybe in all of sports.
Of course, I’m biased as a member of the Iowa media.
But the Wave gets me every time, how it captures the human spirit and suddenly turns two opponents that are battling on the field into partners on the same side, and how it puts everything in perspective.
So it got me to thinking after hearing about the turnout on what would’ve been the Iowa football team’s 2020 season opener this past Saturday that steps should be taken to make sure that the Wave is performed on each of the seven Saturdays that Iowa was scheduled to play at Kinnick Stadium this fall.
It would be so inspiring and heart-warming to see a high school football team, or a high school cross country team, or a college fraternity, or a sorority, or members of a business, or a church, or members of the Iowa men’s basketball team, or the Iowa wrestling team, or the Iowa baseball team, or the Iowa Marching Band, gather outside Kinnick Stadium and perform the Wave on each of the remaining six home dates.
I’m not suggesting that they all gather at the same time because that would make it hard to social distance.
It would just be uplifting to see the Wave performed on each of the remaining home dates.
This past Saturday’s Wave started at approximately 11:40 a.m. because that is about when the first quarter would have ended in a game with an 11 a.m. kickoff.
The Wave occurs after the end of the first quarter as fans inside Kinnick Stadium, along with the players and coaches from both teams, turn and wave to the children who are patients at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, which is located across the street from the stadium.
But since Iowa doesn’t play all of its home games at 11 a.m., it might make more sense to perform the Wave at a set time for the remaining six home dates.
Or you could do a 2:30 p.m. kickoff and perform the Wave at approximately 3:15 p.m.
Those kinds of details could easily be worked out. The tough part would be getting fans or groups or teams to do it under difficult circumstances.
The Wave started as a suggestion on Facebook from a Hawkeye fan, and is now a major part of the Iowa game-day experience, maybe the biggest part due to its far-reaching impact.
The Wave is unique to the Iowa football program, and to the university, and performing it on the remaining six home dates would send a powerful message of unity, compassion and resolve.
It would show the kids in the hospital, that even without Hawkeye football, they still have tremendous support from a fan base that cares, and that is thinking about them.
Iowa’s six remaining home dates from the original 2020 schedule are this coming Saturday, followed by Sept. 26, Oct. 3, Oct. 24, Nov. 14, and Nov. 28.
I’m not sure how such an event could be organized, but social media would be a good place to start.
The University of Iowa has prohibited tailgating on campus property, but performing the Wave as a small group, or as part of team, is far from tailgating.
So much of what we enjoy, and in some cases take for granted, has been shut down by the COVID-19 global pandemic. People are frustrated and confused by this new normal, and by how it has impacted sports.
Iowa fans are especially frustrated because they don’t understand why three of the five Power 5 conferences still plan to play football this fall, while the Big Ten Conference and the Pac-12 have canceled the fall season due to health concerns.
To perform the Wave throughout what would’ve been the 2020 home schedule would show strength and compassion.
It would show that the virus is no match for such a noble cause.
And it would show that people care, and that’s what we need right now to help cope with these tough and surreal times.