In Defense Of The Vuvuzela

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The backlash to the backlash has begun and I have to say that I'm glad. If you think the vuvuzela is an evil torture device that should be banned from all sport, then you can blow it out your ass.

It's appalling that anyone who calls themselves a sports fan would be against making noise. Is the vuvuzela annoying? Absolutely. So is everyone who roots for Boston. Annoying other people is half the fun of being a sports fan. The fact that this tradition disturbs everyone equally is just part of its majesty. To all the players complaining about how hard it is to concentrate: I don't know if you noticed, but your opponent is under the same restrictions. When playing on the world's biggest stage, not losing your mind is part of the challenge.

Is it disrespectful to blow horns during the national anthems? You bet. Is it more disrespectful then telling a player to his face that he sucks balls? Or flipping the bird to opposing coaches? Which I saw in a bar this weekend, by the way. People giving the finger to a guy on a television who can't even see them. Respect is a not exactly a priority for most sports fans.


And who cares if it drowns out the announcers? You don't understand what those Scottish guys are talking about half the time anyway.

The buzzing clearly doesn't annoy everyone, because someone has to blow the damn things, right? Why would they do it if it wasn't fun? (And they aren't all South Africans, by the way. Fans of every team have been spotted with the horns.) Because making noise is fun and this tiny piece of plastic allows you to make a lot of it. Isn't that why the English sing their stupid songs and people bring cowbells to college football games? Try telling the Germans that their chants are destroying the game and see how far that gets you.


Players can't communicate? Have they considered ... I don't know ... pointing? It figures that the French would have the temerity to blame their crappy performance on the noise. How was more talking going to help you score goals? Were you planning to bore Uruguay to death with stories about your cats? Maybe if they'd had vuvuzelas in Germany four years ago, Zidane wouldn't have heard Materazzi call his mother a flithy whore. But that's all part of the beautiful game, I guess.

I wouldn't say that opposition to the vuvuzela is racist, since complaints are mostly color blind, but it definitely smacks of the condescending imperialism that infects so much of our talk about the problem with Africa. The horns are simple and cheap—only a few bucks! Like a McDonald's hamburger—with none of the elegance or "imagination" of calling someone a fat ass. As if the horns and the fans who love them are not worthy of the world's precious Cup. I found this line by Yahoo's Martin Rogers to be particularly galling:

"But the problem for soccer's loyal fans is not so much the ever-present buzz ... It is more about what is missing, namely the typical color and atmosphere that is normally seen at top-level matches."


Uh ... the vuvuzela is the color and atmosphere, you humorless twit. No, it's not "typical" European color or a South American atmosphere, but that's really your problem, isn't it? The reason the World Cup is in South Africa is because FIFA made a conscious decision to include everyone in the world's biggest event. Even poor little Africa, where no one wants to visit and where locals can't afford tickets, gets its chance to contribute. FIFA's president summed it up best by saying, ""Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?" Their traditions may not be as old as yours, but you'll have to forgive South Africans for getting a late start. They were a little occupied.

Saying you want to ban the vuvuzela is essentially saying that all people must enjoy sports the way you want to enjoy sports. No matter how many drunken bleacher bums have pained me over the years, I would never tell someone how they can or can't enjoy a game. So suck it up for another month and then you can go back to forgetting about the whole dang continent for another two decades.


In the meantime, if you really want to complain about something, complain about the ad wizard who decided that the final round of a quadrennial world championship would be the perfect time to experiment with a completely new piece of equipment that no one has ever used before. Because what we really want to see at this stage of the tournament is the world's most talented football players re-learning how to kick a soccer ball. Freaking genius.

[Image via World Soccer Shop]