As Annoying As A
Cristiano Ronaldo Dive
By BRUCE SHOLL
One Great Season
The biggest hubbub coming out of South Africa, oddly enough, isn't a controversial call or a dive by Cristiano Ronaldo. It's the annoying din from the vuvuzelas. Whether you know the name of the yard-long plastic trumpet or not, you've certainly become familiar with the endless droning torture that is the vuvuzela. The closest I get to describing the feeling is trying to fall asleep with a mosquito buzzing above your face; you know it's there but you're helpless to do anything about it.
South Africa claims ownership to the instrument and its fans have been known for using them for many years. Rather than chanting or cheering and igniting the rest of the crowd, and perhaps inspiring their squad, fans intead blow horns directly into one another's ears.
Let me understand this correctly. You're paying good money to attend these World Cup games that showcase the best players football players on the planet, but you spend the entirety of the matches blowing a horn? Does that not that get boring? For the only time in my life, I am decidedly not jealous of those attending the World Cup in person.
The vuvuzela produces a sustained b-flat note, which in my mind correlates to the intro note of the Guns N' Roses timeless classic "Welcome To The Jungle." I imagine Slash, or 50,000 Slashes, producing this note throughout a game without ever moving on to his terrifically descending guitar riff that kicks off the song before Axl Rose rejoins with his unmistakable banshee cry. This intro note is at the back of my head when I’m watching a game or discussing a bad call, a pansy fall, a fantastic save, another beer. It never goes away. By halftime, I have to run to the nearest computer and play the song just to get that resolution. It's like listening to a minor-key Bach prelude without the resolution chord at the end; it will leave you feeling unbalanced and somehow less whole as a person.
Which leads to the bigger question involving this exasperating noise-maker. What does it mean? What does an endless buzzing create except a difficult disruption? As the host country, shouldn’t the locals want their favorite players to benefit from the noise of their fans, not have it drowned out? The vuvuzela produces a sound at about 127 decibels, right about the same level of two screaming fans seated right next to you (close to 130.) To put this in perspective, a chainsaw at arm’s length is about 115 decibels. The argument that fans are just as loud doesn’t hold true for the simple fact that your vocal chords will not hold up under sustained screaming for nearly two hours. The crowd swells and cheers, then quiets. It brings anxiety with the anticipation; you get caught up in the emotion of the game, a communal 90-minute esprit de corps.
There is now a larger discussion about banning the vuvuzelas, with even Ronaldo chiming in, but FIFA has repeated that it will not silence them. My greatest fear is that they will not only stick around for the rest of the World Cup, but beyond it. Are you ready to listen to these for every Premiere League match you watch? Every La Liga, every Bundesliga and Serie A game? For the rest of your life? If you think I'm joking, they are selling two of these every second right now. Noodle that for a moment: every friggin second. And they are ridiculously cheap, going for around $2.50, or £2.10. The vuvuzela will drown out every chant, every fight song that has survived through the decades. Such traditions will be devoured, and like a great cloud of locusts, the vuvuzelas cannot be stopped.
Let's hope the governing bodies listen to those of us who can no longer tolerate what could potentially be a ruinous practice for the sport of football, and return the beautiful game to what it rightly should be. That is, if they can hear us.
Click here for Bruce's bio and an archive of his previous stories.