I’m sick and tired of vuvuzelas, those ubiquitous horns that spectators blow continuously at the World Cup matches in South Africa.Their tuneless blare, heard nonstop throughout matches, is annoying and disruptive and it detracts from the game.
Years ago , I was attending a Celtics- Knicks game in Madison Square Garden and a Celtics fan blew an airhorn whenever the Celtics scored. At first , the neighboring fans put up with the noise though they visibly flinched whenever it sounded. Pretty soon though, it got to be more than they could tolerate and Security was summoned. The security guard told the fan to cut it out and she complied .. for the next two minutes. Then , her enthusiasm got the better of her and she couldn’t restrain herself. B-L-A-A-T. Security came by again and unceremoniously hustled her out the door as all the fans in the section applauded.
At least, that was a single horn and it was blown only at intervals. The vuvuzelas are blown for the full ninety minutes for the match and the massed effect of hundreds of them results in a wall of sound reaching 130 decibels, enough to create hearing loss according to some experts. I could have been ( alittle bit) more sympathetic if the horns were not blown continuously, if they were sounded to celebrate the home team scoring a goal or ,say, if the home team won. However, the vuvuzelas are blown continuously at every match , not just when South Africa are playing. It could be Netherlands versus Denmark but the vuvuzelas are just as loud. As one fan remarked “Crowd involvement is so much better when it has at least a hint of relevance to the spectacle, rather than noise for noise’s sake…”
Everyone seems to hate the vuvuzelas: fans, TV viewers, broadcasters and players. Fans can buy earplugs and TV viewers can turn down the sound or buy an MP3 device that acts as a noise canceller by using a series of inverted sound waves to silence the sound of the horns but the players are helpless. They can’t use earplugs because they need to communicate with each other as a play is developing.The vuvuzelas make that impossible.Potugese star, Christian Ronaldo, said that the noise “makes it difficult to concentrate”. Argentina’s wizard Lionel Messi says that ” it is important to communicate on the pitch. (This ) is like being deaf “.
Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, seemed to sympathiize and had floated the idea of banning vuvzelas at games. A day later, he backtracked . No doubt , he did not want to offend the host country and lacked the balls to do the right thing. A vuvuzela ban would have been the way to go, the only way to go.
As was only to be expected, some contrarians see this as a clash between European sensibilities and African traditions. To them , I say (a) it’s not just Europeans who find the noise distracting , it’s the entire world, South Africa excepted and (b) Who says that all traditions are good ? What kind of tradition is it to blow a cheap plastic horn throughout a match ? When this stupid ” tradition” begins to interfere with the game it’s time to get rid of it.
This time around , the vuvuzelas have won but , in the not too distant future, I predict that a ban on vuvuzelas will be a prerequisite for scheduling any international tournaments in South Africa.
A final thought: After South Africa’s opening game which resulted in a tie, South African goalie Itumeleng Khune was quoted was saying “We could hardly hear the fans who were quiet at stages during the game.We want more support and louder vuvuzelas when we play our next match.” That does it ! I’m rooting against South Africa from now on !!