Vuvuzelas: An Argument For and Against

Against: Alex Michaels

I’d be the first to admit that I’ve become a miserable old man, and I’m only in my early 30s. Gone are the days when I need to be in a pub to watch a big match, jostling for position in front of a tiny screen – give me my reclining armchair and a cold can of Miss Artois any day. And so, just when I’m at the age where I like to watch a match in peace, these blasted vuvu-blasted-zela thingies come along to ruin my stress-free viewing of the World Cup! [ad#as3]

Just five minutes into the first match between South Africa and Mexico, I had the uncontrollable urge to go to the nearest supermarket to purchase a giant-sized fly swatter, preferably one that would cover 100,000 or so of the buzzing pests in one fell swoop (it would definitely bring a whole new meaning to interactive TV). Even our two dogs are doing wappy circles around the room with their heads in the air wondering where all the darn things are coming from. Okay, so man’s best friends may not be the smartest animals on the planet, but I’m with them on this one.

You know something’s wrong when you’re actually glad to hear the incessant commentary (yes, I am miserable and old school enough to think something should only be said if it enhances the viewing!). I never thought I’d be so happy just to hear them waffling on for 90 minutes in the hope that it goes some way to drowning out the noise.

Whoever invented these things and thought they would be a good idea to bring to a football match surely isn’t one of those poor unfortunate souls in ear shot of one. I’m guessing they were deaf when they came up with the idea, possibly living in the hope of resuscitating a perforated ear drum, or they were not long after trying it out anyway. We’ve moved a long way since smoke signals, too, so I’m thinking it wasn’t for communication purposes either.

I’m sure there was some perfectly good explanation for their invention, and I’m equally sure someone has written a full history of the blasted things on Wikipedia, but I won’t dignify them by looking it up. All I care about is why they’re allowed inside a football stadium, and if they are allowed, we should be entitled to bring that giant-sized fly swatter to mute anyone attempting to use one. Otherwise, try one out on safari and see what the lions think of it.

That might even get me out of my armchair.

For: Greg Neville

Alex, mate, you’re right about a couple of things.

1) You’re a miserable old man! Just turn down your hearing aid … ha!
2) There is a perfectly good explanation for vuvuzelas.

Let me enlighten you. I’m told that the vuvuzela is based on the kudo horn and that back in the day, way back, the horn was used to summon people to gatherings. Unlike England, where your next-door neighbor lives a horn’s length (about 1m) away.

Much like cow bells in Switzerland, samba drums in Brazil, thunderstix in the US (to name a few), fans worldwide have always brought instruments to sporting events to create a unique and exciting atmosphere. Over the past two decades, the stadium horn has become deeply entrenched into football culture in South Africa and it is here to stay. Alex is not alone but if you can’t beat them, join them!

However, I do hope the South Africans put down the vuvuzelas once in awhile so that they can fill the stadiums with their beautiful voices. Singing traditional songs, such as Shosholoza, are also a South African sporting tradition and will inspire the world … even cranky old men!

The vuvuzela phenomenon has only just begun. Inundated with horn sales, already the marketers are looking for other ways to cash in – my favorite: the “Blow Me” t-shirt! I can see this catching on … the London 2012 Olympics will have the trusty old Barmy Army trumpet at every venue, the Brazil Olympics and World Cup will obviously have its drums but look out when Australia next hosts a major sporting event – hopefully the 2022 World Cup. The musical instrument to rival the vuvuzela – the Aussie didgeridoo.

Until then … happy vuvu-ing!

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