Weighing in on vuvuzelas

The World Cup is underway, and I’ve been watching a few of the matches.  (So far, I watched ABC’s offerings of England vs US and Germany vs Australia).  Martin Tyler, the veteran English soccer announcer that ABC has retained, has made a few biting comments during the broadcast about the blaring vuvuzelas.  Well, FIFA has weighed in and said that they won’t be doing anything to limit them or fans using them (other than to restrict them during national anthems), and I can understand that.  That doesn’t mean I like the vuvuzelas.  In fact, I quite hate them.  I understand that from a business point of view, you have to have plenty of local fans going to the matches to have a successful World Cup.  This is especially true in South Africa – let’s face it, it’s not exactly centrally located for the supporting fans for most of the participating nations.  So if banning or severely limiting vuvuzelas would put a serious dent in attendance by locals (or cause a major backlash among the local fans), then you simply can’t do it, no matter how annoying they are.

But let’s face it, they aren’t some long-lived African tradition.  They’re just a local fan fad (a relatively recent one) that also happens to be highly annoying to many people, including myself.  I lived in Houston.  The vuvuzelas are *not* some African tribal tradition carried forth among soccer fans.  They’re from Central America, primarily, and I heard them whenever Mexico played in Houston — not exactly a bastion of African tribal tradition.  Let’s dispense with the notion that being annoyed by the vuvuzela means being annoyed with the cultural heritage of South Africa.  That’s bullshit.  Even if it was truly a long-standing tradition, so what?  Others can’t be annoyed?  Of course they can.  That said, I wouldn’t be such a prick as to foist my personal sensibilities on to those of other fans.  (Though I must say that I’d be really, really irritated if I was a visiting fan & was made nearly deaf by the local tradition of people ceaselessly blaring in to horns).

The vuvuzelas are annoying.  They have as much to do with being a soccer fan as cheering at the wrong time has to do with being a good baseball fan (Cubs fans, I’m looking at you for going crazy in the 5th inning for getting the first out.  Nonsensical cheering is, in fact, worse than no cheering at all).  The bleat of the vuvuzelas is constant.  The action on the field has absolutely nothing to do with the intensity of it.  Goal?  WHAAAAA!  Pass?  WHAAAAA!  Player introductions?  WHAAAA!  It’s constant, and therefore it’s just noise.  It’s not even background noise, because it covers over the chants, songs, and cheers of the fans who are actually following the game.  I seriously question the ability of anybody to blare in to a horn for a good 20 to 30 seconds at a time and still pay attention to what’s going on on the field.  I can’t scream at a (US) football game like that.  Even the best of musicians, I give 1 minute, tops, before they are seriously winded, to the point that they can’t really focus.  Anyway, my point is, the vuvuzelas are distracting to the game to me.  If it’s part of “the experience” for the local fans, though, I get that FIFA can’t very well ban them.  But, mark my words, you can count on hearing them in World Cup 2014 in Brazil, too.  I wonder what the cultural bullshit reason we’ll hear from FIFA then…

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2 Responses to “Weighing in on vuvuzelas”

  1. Phoenix says:

    Someone please stop the horns! I tried to give the World Cup a chance, but I’d even turn off the Superbowl if there was the same annoying background noise.

  2. Douglas says:

    The Vuvuzela, just when you though kazoos were the most annoying “musical instruments”