Quote of the day: "Remember...you only hate them if you don't have one." - Boogieblast sales pitch (from the Oregonian, 6/29/09)
Not since I went to Disney World and couldn't get the tune from "It's a Small World" out of my head have I found a sound so annoying as the Vuvuzela. I never heard of it before yesterday and, based on a search on the Internet, I've obviously had my head in the sand. I'm a fan of most sports, but soccer has never been at the top of the list. Nevertheless, I turned in to the U.S.-Brazil match yesterday and initially thought my TV was failing.
Here's what I posted yesterday on my facebook page:
"wondering what's up with all the kazoos at the FIFA soccer final. Watching the US-Brazil game sounded like a beehive inside my head. Is that a South Africa thing? Hope it doesn't catch on at chess tournaments..."
Well, thanks to this morning's Oregonian sports page, I now have the answer:
"As south Africa gears up to host next year's soccer World Cup, there are plenty of doomsayers predicting the worst. If transportation shortages don't ruin the event, crime will. The beer will run out. Or the stadiums will be half empty.
But no one expected an ugly plastic trumpet to dominate the controversy.
Hatred of the "vuvuzela", the noisemaker wielded by South African soccer fans, ignited the blogosphere even before the FiFA Confederations Cup, the country's dry run for 2010.
"During the current tournament, foreign players, coaches and journalists have called for a ban on the vuvuzela.
One vuvuzela - a loud, toneless blast - sounds something like a foghorn. But a stadium full of vuvuzelas, all tooting simultaneously, is either the most exhilarating sound or a noise so irritating it borders on painful, depending on the listener.
Video clips of groups playing the vuvuzela like a melodic instrument can be found on YouTube (see example above). But a more accurate sound clip is found at www.boogieblast.co.az, which claims to be the trumpet's original distributor..."
-- from the Oregonian, 6/29/09; original source: wire reports
Among the news reports I found on the Internet is this from "The World Cup's biggest concern is a trumpet" on The New ForeignPolicy.com :
"Described by one newspaper as "a unique brightly coloured elongated trumpet that makes a sound like a herd of elephants approaching", the vuvuzela has become the biggest controversy at this summer's Confederations Cup [a small tournament between continental champions that functions as a World Cup warm-up].
Fans argue that it is an essential way to express their national identity. But players and TV commentators have called for it be banned at the World Cup.
Liverpool's Xabi Alonso, playing for Spain in the current tournament, said: "They make a terrible noise and it's not a good idea to have them on sale outside the grounds. Here's a piece of advice for Fifa [football's world governing body,] - try to ban them."
The South African Association of Audiology has warned that vuvuzelas can damage hearing.
But supporters are sticking to their horns. Chris Massah Malawai, 23, watching the national team beat New Zealand, said: "This is our voice. We sing through it. It makes me feel the game."
When asked, FIFA President Sepp Blatter (that's his real name), replied:
"I always said that when we go to South Africa, it is Africa. It's not western Europe. It's noisy, it's energy, rhythm, music, dance, drums. This is Africa. We have to adapt a little."
I'll watch the World Cup with my sound muted. Enough said.