During the 2010 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup, it seemed to me that as much of the commentary was devoted to the vuvuzela as it was to football (known as soccer here in the US). Most fans seemed to either embrace or despise this ~60cm elongated plastic horn, which is popular in many African and Asian countries and can generate noise levels of up to 127 decibels—approximately equal to the pain threshold. I was first exposed to the vuvuzela while half-heartedly watching the 2010 FIFA World Cup as my British husband tried to explain the rules of the game. I don’t remember much about the game of football/soccer, but I do remember the loud, unrelenting and monotonous sound of those ubiquitous plastic horns. I couldn’t quite fathom the instrument’s popularity for several reasons: 1) The cacophony in the stadium drowned out any hope of hearing the commentators, 2) the instrument seemed to allow no variation in pitch or tone and 3) I felt sorry for the players and fans in the stadium who were being subjected to the ear-splitting noise, even though the fans seemed to be loving every minute of it. Perhaps I would have come down on the other side of the vuvuzela fence if I were more of a football/soccer fan and had been caught up in the fanfare associated with sport’s biggest contest, but I will admit that I was one of the vuvuzela haters.
The Vuvuzela. What is it? World cup soccer fans know it well and have described it in every way possible, occasionally with words of endearment but more often with an air of disdain. The dictionary defines it as a stadium horn that is approximately 2 feet long and produces a long monotone sound. And boy does that sound pack a punch! Picture a stadium packed to the brim with excited fans playing the vuvuzela and you will begin to understand why many a fan chooses to hit the mute button on their TVs when watching this year’s FIFA World Cup. Even sports commentators cannot stop talking about it. But to be brutally honest, the reason why most of us are tuning in to watch one of the biggest recurring sporting events in the world is not to cultivate a love-hate relationship with a stadium horn. Rather we all want to egg on (and hopefully not egg splatter) our ‘Titan warrior’ sports men who are strategizing over how best to break the resolve of their opponents. Continue reading