Vuvuzelas: heirloom or plague? What? We can't hear you!

Are vuvuzelas the new soundtrack of soccer? Or just a brain-straining buzz? The omnipresent plastic horns, indigenous to South African football (the name is believed to have come from Zulu tribes), have sent World Cup viewers into a tizzy. But does the vuvuzela deserve such vitriol? Let's hear both sides.


They honor tradition.

Declared South African organizing committee spokesman Rich Mkhondo, "This is a world event hosted by South Africa. As our guests, please embrace our culture and the way we celebrate." Imagine if they'd banned Biergartens in Germany in 2006.

If you can't beat 'em, bleat 'em!

Here in the States last Saturday, the Marlins gave out 15,000 blowers to fans at Sun Life Stadium. "It's not like it's going to distract us or anything," said Florida catcher Brett Hayes. "As long as we don't kick the ball around or start heading the ball. That would be bad."

Vuvuzelas drown everything out.

What, because of the buzz you can't hear the Brits belting out the cacophony of wanker-related rhymes? Or the 10 million Olé, Olé chants? We'll blast out a bravo to that!


They're hazardous to our health.

Phonak, a Swiss hearing aid company, registered the horn's sound at 127 decibels—five decibels louder than a referee's whistle and 42 louder than what's considered safe over extended periods. And a South African fan reportedly ruptured her pharynx while tooting.

They're unfriendly to man's best friend.

South Africa's SPCA is warning of a potential plague of strays caused by their owners' blaring. "The animals have got much more sensitive hearing... so loud noises can sometimes cause them to jump through windows," said the SPCA's Juan August.

Vuvuzelas drown everything out.

Refs' whistles are going unheeded, announcers—including the brilliant Ian Darke—are being muffled, coaches can't coach and players can't hear one another. When such artists as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are detractors, isn't it time for the sounds of silence?