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The Vuvuzela or Vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv!!!!!!!!

June 16, 2010
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, have no TV, or don’t watch sports you’ve probably heard of the vuvuzela. A thin 3′ long plastic horn that has been making a lot of buzz in the World Cup lately- both literally and figuratively. And who would have guessed that given the historic nature of these games that the biggest story isn’t about Africa taking a step towards entering the global sporting family, it’s about how annoying the sound of their horns are (if you want a taste click here). Just another wonderful example of the media’s non-stop quest to find mundane news where ever it can be muck raked.But my cynicism aside the instrument does raise some real issues in the world of soccer. Firstly, many players are complaining about being unable to hear their team-mates during the game. Commentators are complaining about the noise because they can’t hear their own voice (and we know how commentators love to hear themselves talk). Fans are complaining about the noise. There are some sensible arguments as well: there are claims that it takes away from the color of a soccer game, drowning out the chanting, singing, and the “ohhs and ahhs” of the crowd. And perhaps most importantly tests show that the vuvuzela can cause permanent hearing damage when exposed to the noise for long periods. But let’s look at these issues up close.

First of all, every stadium offers its own version of “home field” advantage. Brazil has its drums, England has its chants, and the United States has its empty stands. Having the drone of vuvuzelas is South Africa’s “home field” advantage. If anything the South African team would like more of it, according to keeper Itumeleng Khune. It does drown out the color of global soccer, covering up much of the crowd noise associated with international soccer games. But again it’s a South African World Cup. When in Cape Town right? And look at the faces in the crowd blowing the vuvuzelas. Away and home fans are equally adding to the din. It’s part of the local culture, and the global audience is embracing it despite what the media would have you think. And honestly who cares what foreign commentators or fans think? They should appreciate the nuances of a foreign culture, and be excited that their team even made it to the World Cup. Personally I’m kind of tired of this mentality that if you don’t like something you complain (or sue), and things will change. People should learn to respect different cultures, learn how to politely accept them, and silently observe even if it’s something they find displeasing. That’s life people, things don’t always go your way. The health issue may be real, but it’s no louder than many sporting and music events we already attend. Compare the 127db noise of the vuvuzela with prolonged exposure at a rock concert which regularly measures at 115db. Things that damage our ears are all around us, and it’s important for us to take prevention ourselves. It’s why I’ve started to wear ear plugs to some concerts I go, or sit in the back away from speakers. Most of you are grown ups, learn how to take care of your own self.

But most importantly I think we need to recognize that this is South Africa’s World Cup, and we should honor their traditions and culture. Why are we trying to “Europeanize” (or “Latinize”) what should be an African event? And what’s the point of having a country host the World Cup if you’re going to strip away the culture surrounding the event? Why not hold the World Cup in grey and neutral colored stadiums in the middle of international waters? Completely devoid of anything remotely colorful. If FIFA truly wants the sport to be a global game than they should learn to respect another’s culture. And even more importantly we the global viewership should learn to embrace another’s culture. Hasn’t Africa had enough invaders storm into their country and rob them of their freedoms?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Wes permalink
    June 17, 2010 10:22 am

    I love the VUVUZELA….

    and it covers up all the many racist comments from many the attending “hooligans”
    Football (soccer) fans are usually rated the most racist of any sport…louder the VUVU, the less crap the players have to hear…might go buy one on ebay and bring it to Sox games to drown out the massholes

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