What distinguishes South African soccer fans from the rest of the world?
Answer: They are deaf!
The vuvuzelas are those noise-making plastic horns that are being blown at every World Cup soccer match. They are also being blown from dawn to dusk in the streets wherever soccer fans congregate. The noise level of each horn is 130 decibels, which is above the human pain threshold and which causes permanent hearing damage. The players complain about the noise on the field and, above all, the disruption it provides to on-field communication, making it difficult for them to play their regular game.
The noise also affects television viewership. With some games, it is difficult to hear the game being called over the “incessant whining of locusts” or the “buzzing of angry bees.”
Not unexpectedly, there have been many calls for banning them, at least from during the games. Initially, Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA, said no because he worried about Europeanizing the competition. In other words, the vuvuzelas were part of the South African cultural identity. Yes, the vuvuzelas did originate in South Africa twenty years ago, based on the traditional antelope horns, and yes, South Africans commonly play them at soccer games, but how can a cheap tube of plastic only twenty years old be considered part of South African heritage?
Now at least the head of the World Cup organizing committee, Danny Jordan, is considering a ban, probably not the least reason being some talk of lawsuits. If there is to be a ban, it should not come until the completion of the first round in fairness to the competition. Let all teams and all games in the round be played under the same conditions. Once the competition moves to the round of 16, the all-important knockout games begin. At that time, it would be appropriate to ban the interfering buzz so that the teams can play to their full potential.