ON THIS DATE IN 1984: ‘The Human Wave’ hits Hawaii for the first time

By 1984, the wave was a common sight at Aloha Stadium

Hawaii fans found a unique, for the islands at least, way to celebrate a five-game winning streak on this date in 1984.

The Rainbows improved to 5-3 with a key defensive stand in a 16-10 win over San Diego State in front of an Aloha Stadium crowd of 42,000. That crowd did something Honolulu Advertiser reporter Stephen Tsai did not expect.

A ripple began in the North end zone early in the second quarter and by the time it returned it was a full-fledged wave. By the end of the night, the stadium endured five waves.

An Associated Press story by Hal Bock a month later pinned down the first human wave occurring in 1981 with Washington band director Bill Bissell dreaming it up. The University of Michigan made an early claim to starting it after watching the Tigers on the JumboTron in the 1984 World Series but eventually relented. The Huskies are still considered the inventors of the move, despite Oakland Athletics fan Krazy George‘s protests. It only took three years for the wave to reach Hawaii.

“It’s easy,” Bissell said. “All it takes is a couple of people. Put two drunks on one end of a row. They’ll stand up. If they don’t knock over their beers, you’ve got it going.”

The stadium cheer was not all fun and games, however. Star-Bulletin writer Paul Carvalho had his own piece on the wave, cautioning that the “Rust Palace” might not be able to hold up to the abuse.

Play-by-play announcer Jim Leahey had tried to encourage a wave throughout the season, but had given up by the time the San Diego State game came around. Color analyst Rick Blangiardi suggested Hawaii fans were too sophisticated for such foolishness.

And then it happened, and has been happening ever since.


  1. izzy October 28, 2020 12:45 am

    I believe the “Wave” was banned at Aloha Stadium after the Hawaii beat down of BYU in December 2001. Multiple waves by the capacity crowd caused 7 drownings along with dozens taken to intensive care.

    3 attendees are still listed as “Missing.”

  2. haka October 28, 2020 8:15 am

    For more years than I can remember, I have suggested doing what hasn’t been done anywhere before that I know of. I think it would be really cool to see a multi wave of say, three sets. Start a wave. When it’s a third of the way down, start another. Repeat that one more time. Three simultaneous waves may tilt a lot of beers. The trick would be getting the fans to look back not forward. Never turn your back to the wave! Crazier yet would be to start a wave in each direction at the same time. Okay okay nuff…waving goodbye.

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