When I was a youth soccer player growing up in Lansing, Michigan we used to regularly play against Eaton Rapids, a farming town about 20 miles outside the urban center. These were always tough games, mostly because the boys from Eaton Rapids were big and strong. Their squads were like little versions of the German national team, and this feeling was reinforced by the occasional racist taunts they hurled at our teams, which featured black and Latino players (and one Jew, me, who was often confused for a Puerto Rican).
But one of the most annoying things about playing Eaton Rapids was that their fans always brought these goddamn cowbells to the games, and would bang them throughout the match. I hated those cowbells, which came to mind this weekend amidst the furor against the vuvezelas that have blared and bleated throughout the first few days of the World Cup. They’ve caused such an uproar that World Cup organizers were considering banning them from matches.
Any soccer fan who watched the Confederation’s Cup last year or who has watched South American soccer in the past 30 years will already be familiar with this noise, and discussions about whether or not they should be banned from the Cup have been going on for a year. My feelings? Get over it. I’d much rather the Black Eyed Peas and, especially, Bono and R. Kelly be banned from the Cup; the vuvuzelas are less annoying, and at least they have character and impart a local feeling to the goings on. Who knows, maybe they even give African and South American squads that are used to hearing them an advantage, which I’m all for given that this is the first World Cup in Africa. That they give idiotic American cretins another thing to whine about also seems an argument in their favor, doesn’t it?
If it annoys you, turn your sound down, go to a bar, or simply watch more matches. I’ve acclimated myself to them already, much more so than I ever did those goddamn Eaton Rapids cowbells.
Jason Gay offers an even heartier defense of the vuvezela here.
* Yes, I realize that “vuvezela” is not Spanish, but the alliteration was too alluring.