The Latest saga surrounding the negative impact of the Vuvuzela on the SWC.

South Africa has officially marked the 50-day countdown to the Soccer World Cup. Now I must say, as organising goes -with the help of FIFA- I think we’ve pulled it off quite nicely and I think we should be ready in time to host this major event. Unfortunately we have not been immune to the controversies that inevitably follow an event so widely covered as this. There have been many stories making their rounds lately and one in particular is the antipathy towards the ever faithful South African born Vuvuzela. Right from day one experts have been ‘playing down’ this instrument, stating the noise to be very distracting to the players and annoying to the spectators .

It seems that researchers from the University of Pretoria have taken it one step further by producing scientific evidence, based on tests at a soccer match that the sound level produced by Vuvuzelas, inside a 2010 stadium could lead to permanent hearing damage.

The test was comprised primarily by testing the hearing of 11 spectators before and after they attended a Premier Soccer League match at a FIFA-approved training stadium with 30 000 seats. During the match, ten of the 11 wore personal sound exposure meters fixed to their shoulders, and four of them blew Vuvuzelas. The researchers said the average sound exposure experienced by the participants during the almost two hours they spent in the stadium was 100.5 decibels. The peak exposure exceeded 140 decibels for eight of the ten participants, with the maximum peak reaching 144.2. The four who blew vuvuzelas had the most exposure to noise. South African standards for occupational noise requiring hearing protection are for people exposed to levels of 85 decibels and above.

Now a few questions come to mind when I read these results.

Firstly the benchmark for South African standards for occupational noise has been measured based on people who have prolonged exposure to this noise on a regular basis i.e.  In a work ‘occupational’ environment, is it not? Surely this does not apply to a once off event lasting 2 hours?

Secondly, people willingly attend music concerts and nightclubs knowing full well that they are going to be faced with a mountain of speakers, chucking out huge decibels of noise as well as additional crowd noise and so on. Do you walk into a nightclub wearing earplugs? Do you open a lawsuit against the owner stating permanent hearing loss due to his health and safety standards? I don’t think so.

Thirdly, maybe people should be warned ahead of time about the possible dangers and be told to take the necessary precautions if they think they will be adversely affected? Let each and every person be responsible for their own ears. That is not too much to ask is it?

South Africa is renowned for making problems disappear by putting signs up. It’s absolutely brilliant that if a certain road has problems with potholes, all they have to do is put a warning sign up informing people of such, problem solved. So much easier than fixing those pesky things, they always end up coming back anyway. Only in South Africa.

So let’s carry on with this treasured past time by putting lots of bright yellow warning signs up at all the major stadiums around the country, this should keep all the drooling litigators at bay.

I believe the Vuvuzela is here to stay, so let’s just build a bridge and get over it Ok?

By: Kerry


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