Vuvuzelas not really all that bad

Okay, yes, the best sound related to the vuvuzela is the name of the noise-maker itself.
“Vuvuzela” is just one of those fun words to say, and even could make for a cool band name (although the actual instrument would be a detriment to most groups).
While that’s really all that’s positive about the horn, the fuss around it has been overblown, at least from TV viewers.
Watching the first half of the Mexico-France match on Thursday, the vuvuzelas—which emit sounds that are disparagingly described as an invasion of bees or a goat being led to slaughter—certainly were noticeable, but they didn’t make me want to switch off the game.
Granted, I wasn’t watching a game featuring host South Africa, when the vuvuzelas are likely out in fuller force.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter was called on to ban the instrument but ultimately chose not to, citing it has a place in South African tradition.
That has been the subject of some debate, however, with those in favour of banning the vuvuzela arguing it only became popular at matches over the last decade, give or take, after being commercialized by a South African plastics company.
But an article posted on CNN.com last week told the story of the Shembe Church, whose founder, Isiah Shembe, introduced the vuvuzela (originally made out of cane wood and later metal, according to the article) into the group’s worship a century ago.
Some argue the history dates back even further.
Fair enough.
Maybe it’s because I haven’t had to sit through any of the noisier games, but letting fans root however they want, as long as they’re not being overly rude, vulgar, or threatening, should be a part of the game.
Given the device is widespread, and not just used by a couple of nuisance fans, then it’s hard to deem it as any of the above.
I’m sure actually attending the game, with a constant ‘B’ flat droning, is a different story. Annoyed fans paid good money for those seats, but so, too, did those with their noise-makers in tow.
As long as they’re not hurting anyone (while hearing loss is a risk, anyone who is anti-vuvuzela likely already bought along earplugs), then the annoying reality is that they should stick around.
It’s not as though North America is without its irritants, such as cowbells, containers filled with pennies, and, worst of all, the air horn, which made appearances at both the NorWOSSA court sports championships in Dryden earlier this spring and a handful of Fort Frances Lakers games.
I shot some dirty looks at those toting the air horns; alas, it was their right to have them.
And you can’t forget the inflatable ThunderStix, but I won’t get started on those.
Heck, even the Winnipeg Blue Bombers sold annoying vuvuzela-like horns (which I wanted as a kid but, for some reason, never received).
After all, most athletics (with golf and tennis the obvious exceptions) aren’t art in the sense that pristine conditions are required. The audience is supposed to be a part of the experience, especially in soccer (see “European football chants”).
Players in the tournament are reporting that the constant blare of the horns makes it difficult to communicate with teammates and to concentrate on the game.
Well, get over it. Fans at the NBA Finals were making all sorts of noise when a visiting player stepped to the foul line, and major-league baseball players are forced to try to hit 100 m.p.h. fastballs with crowd noise in the background (at least in most stadiums).
As well, NFL quarterbacks seem to find a way to call plays even with 80,000 fans making sounds of all sorts.
At any rate, it does not appear as though the vuvuzela will be banned. But let’s hope they’re a little less frequent at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
• • •
Staying with the World Cup, what is it with the Swiss?
Always pegged to be underdogs, those from the world’s most famously-neutral country always seems to be able to make some noise on the global stage.
In the World Cup, Switzerland upset early favourites Spain 1-0 last Wednesday to put themselves in fantastic position in Group H.
Lest we forget, the Swiss hockey team blanked Canada 2-0 at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy—and nearly pulled off another shocker in Vancouver this past February until the Canadians were saved by a Sidney Crosby snipe in the shootout to eke out the 3-2 win.
With resilient performances in recent years, the Swiss hockey team has proved it’s no pushover, and with the soccer team’s upset win last week, it’s almost as though the Swiss are trying to gain repute in any competition they attend.
You can’t be too careful with that Swiss basketball squad, American Dream Team.
Watch out for the Switzerland sluggers, Japan.
Don’t underestimate the Swiss rugby team, New Zealand.
Given what they’ve done in soccer and hockey, it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t make a game of it.

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