Sports Trends That Really Blew Up

Laura Depta@lauradeptaFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2014

Sports Trends That Really Blew Up

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    Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

    Fads, trends, movements—society is filled with these newly emerging and quickly fading phenomena, and sports is no exception.

    There is often a predictable life cycle—a new craze bursts onto the scene and then quietly fades away to make room for something else. But sometimes, a trend blows up so much that it sticks around and becomes a tradition.

    Sometimes, trends emerge in sports alone—the wave in stadiums, for example.

    Other times, a craze sweeps across all spectrums of society, and the sports world simply joins in, a la the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

    Still other times, a trend starts with sports and then spills outward. Folks around the world are Tebowing, and many might not even understand the origin.

    Here we examine sports or societal trends that have bowled over the athletic world like Marshawn Lynch over an offensive line.

    We’ve got dances. We’ve got fashion. We’ve got facial hair and bicep kissing. Basically, anything that has its own Urban Dictionary entry definitely counts.

Dishonorable Mention: Vuvuzelas

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    This was a trend that, thankfully, had a rather short lifespan. It goes under the dishonorable category because everyone hated it, and therefore it did not blow up.

    At the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, these plastic horns were given out to all the fans, and they unfortunately decided to use them.

    These instruments were so annoying that FIFA pre-emptively banned them from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Reverse Trend: Storming the Court

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    Fun fact: In soccer, court storming is known as “pitch invasion.” Way better title.

    Whatever you call it, fans mobbing the playing surface after an upset is a tradition dating back to...well, a long time ago.

    Somehow, this happened for decades uninhibited, but now, after a brawl or two has taken place, it’s occurring to people that this might not be the safest of traditions.

    The SEC fines schools for allowing (or failing to prevent) court storming after games, and a trend against court storming (invading!) is certainly in the making.


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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    The less popular cousin of Tebowing (we’ll get to that), Kaepernicking is basically just doing like the San Francisco 49ers quarterback does—that is, kissing your bicep as a sign of victory.

    This one is a relatively new trend (compared to say, playoff beards), so we’ll see how it fares in the upcoming NFL season.

Haka Dance

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    The Haka is a traditional New Zealand tribal dance, also defined as the Maori war dance by

    New Zealand’s rugby team began doing the dance at its games, and the phenomenon has spread.

    The dance has been performed at Brigham Young University and the University of Hawaii. It's even made it to MLB, with the Detroit Tigers performing an iteration in 2013.   

Limited-Edition Uniforms

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Whatever happened to the good old Yankees pinstripes? Oh yeah, those are still the same.

    But as for everyone else, what is with this incessant need to switch up sports uniforms all the time? Oh yeah, it’s about making money from merchandise sales.

    Still, this trend toward creating new team uniforms all the time—to commemorate holidays or throwbacks or nicknames—is getting a bit out of hand.

    Unless you’re the Oregon Ducks, mellow out.

John Wall Dance

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    John Wall had a dance named after him following his introduction at Kentucky in 2009.

    After that, everyone was doing the John Wall dance—fans, coaches, athletes—even sports superfan Drake. You’ve done it. You know you have.

    But Eamonn Brennan of reported in 2010 that it wasn’t actually Wall who invented the dance. A Louisville man named Lawshawn "Sugar Shizz" Talbert was the first to be seen doing the dance at a club.

Playoff Beards

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Playoff beards have been a thing in hockey for as long as I can remember.

    Emily Kaplan of The Boston Globe reported in 2013 that the tradition actually got its start in 1980 with the New York Islanders.

    Since then, pretty much all hockey players do it (or try, Sidney Crosby), and others have joined in as well.

    NFL players like Aaron Rodgers and also the entire Boston Red Sox team have jumped onboard the beard bandwagon.

    It’s too soon to tell, but I think the non-hockey playoff beards might be here to stay.

Nae-Nae Dance

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    Well, apparently there is always going to be some type of dance craze going on in sports.

    Most recently, it’s the Nae-Nae. You probably remember it from Mercer’s March Madness upset against Duke, but it originated with this Vine from a dance crew in Atlanta.

    Of course, Kevin Canevari from Mercer wasn’t the only athlete to join in. John Wall (standard), Paul George and the 2014 Rose Bowl champions all got in on the action.

Fashion Glasses

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    It’s not just dances. Fashion glasses have become all the rage, especially among NBA players.

    I’m not sure who started this, but an educated guess goes to Russell Westbrook.

    Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Kevin Durant are also regularly seen sporting the specs.

Athlete Selfies

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    The rise of social media has had one major benefit for sports fans—accessibility of athletes.

    As it becomes increasingly difficult to interact with athletes at games, it becomes increasingly easy to interact with them in cyberspace.

    And a lot of athletes seem to love this. Selfies on selfies blow up athletes’ Twitter and Instagram accounts daily.


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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Tattoos on athletes represent another thing that falls into the trend-turned-permanent-fixture category in sports.

    More of a generational thing, ink was far less commonplace 20 years ago. Now, it’s tough to find a professional athlete who doesn’t have a tattoo somewhere.

The Dougie

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    Around 2009, Lil Wil’s “My Dougie” inspired Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How to Dougie,” and a revolution was born. Everyone was doing the Dougie, and of course everyone includes athletes.

    You may remember the Dougie craze reaching its sports apex around 2010. At the time, Reggie Bush, Nate Robinson, John Wall and a host of other athletes had videos swirling around the Interwebs that captured their interpretations.

    Although, this one of Glen “Big Baby” Davis doing the Dougie privately in his (presumably) own home, well, I could do without.

The Wave

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    We all know the Wave—the thing fans do at sporting events that, even after decades, they still think is somehow the coolest thing ever.

    The origins of the Wave have been debated over the years. But Doug Williams in a special to reports that the first verified instance of it happened at an Oakland Athletics playoff game in 1981.

    More than three decades of waves later, I’d say we're well past “trend” and into staple-town.

Rally Towels

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    It all started with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Terrible Towel.

    In 1975, Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope came up with this simple idea to help get fans fired up.

    Well, it caught on, and it’s still on.

    Countless professional and college teams give towels out to their fans to this day to bolster excitement and, sometimes, distract the opposition.


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    Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

    Tebowing has its own website. The pose was, of course, made famous by its namesake, Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.

    Tebow could often be seen in the prayer pose on the sidelines or after a touchdown. The pose quickly spread throughout the sports world and beyond, as people all over the world added Tebowing to their celebration repertoires.  

    Not only does Tebowing have an entry in Urban Dictionary, but it basically has one in the actual dictionary. In 2012, the Global Language Monitor website recognized “Tebowing” as a word (via USA Today) and defined it as “the act of taking a knee in prayer during an athletic contest.”

Ice Bucket Challenge

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    Certainly, I’m aware that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is not exclusive to sports.

    However, some of the biggest athletes in the world have done it. From LeBron James to Derek Jeter and even Michael Jordan, superstars have all stepped up to the challenge.

    And it’s gone a long way. From July 29 to August 26, 2014, the ALS Association reports that donations have totaled $88.5 million, as compared with $2.6 million during that same span in 2013.