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Vuvuzelas leave the World Cup buzzing | SIDELINES

I’m nowhere near a soccer fan.

I can’t stand how most games end in a 0-0 tie, and how players writhe in pain on the ground for minutes after tripping over a phantom leg, then magically pop up and sprint down the field like nothing happened.

And I really can’t stand the way soccer players are always wagging their fingers in each others’ faces.

What would Ray Lewis do if a running back he just tackled wagged his finger in his face? I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be the palms-up, shrugging-of-the-shoulders move perfected by all World Cup soccer players.

In baseball, that finger-wagger would be “wearing” one the next time he stepped in the batter’s box. But in soccer, all that happens is a referee places a yellow card in front of his face, which is usually met with more shrugging of the shoulders. Then the flopping continues once again.

Weird.

But, I can’t stop watching the World Cup. I’ve even gone as far as to wake up at 5 a.m. to watch a game that didn’t even involve the United States.

I guess it’s similar to when the Olympics roll around every couple of years. Normally, there is no way I would spend a weekend afternoon watching a curling match, the women’s pole vault or men’s figure skating. But in an Olympic year, I’m canceling my dinner reservations at Black Angus and tuning into the four-man bobsled.

I don’t even mind the constant bee-hive sound of the vuvuzelas. The noise the 3-foot trumpets emit has become the talk of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Many players and television viewers have complained about the deafening sound the vuvuzela produces at the stadiums. Some even call for an outright ban on the instrument during the South Africa World Cup.

FIFA, the governing body of soccer around the world, has insisted that fans will not be stopped from blowing the horns. The vuvuzelas are something uniquely African, and FIFA said it is not about to ban the music traditions of fans in their own country.

The vuvuzela’s roots can be traced back to the kudu horn, which was made from an antelope horn. The kudu horn was blown in African villages to summon villagers to meetings or signify other traditional happenings in the community.

“I won’t dwell too much on what outsiders think about vuvuzelas,” South Africa organizing committee spokesman Rich Mkhondo told the Associated Press. “I won’t dwell too much on what the feelings of the spectators are. People love the vuvuzelas around the world. Only a minority are against vuvuzelas.”

Mkhondo is backed by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who asked: “Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?”

A statement that makes total sense. Banning the vuvuzela in South Africa would be like the NFL outlawing tailgating before a football game or Major League Baseball banning the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch.

How would you feel if the NCAA told your drunk, overweight fraternity brother that he could no longer take his shirt off, paint his belly and hold up a huge “D” in one hand and a cutout picket fence in the other? “Outraged” is the first word that comes to my mind.

Sports are about traditions, and the tradition during soccer matches in South Africa is to blow a horn for 90-straight minutes. Sure, it’s annoying, but so is the dude at the Mariners game that tries to unsuccessfully start “The Wave” 56 different times by yelling, “One, two, three, STAND UP.”

Some of the players at the World Cup have even complained about the vuvuzelas. Something that could be even worse than their constant flopping.

French captain Patrice Evra even went as far as to claim that the vuvuzela is the reason his team played so bad during a 0-0 tie against Uruguay in their World Cup opener last week.

“We can’t sleep at night because of the vuvuzelas,” Evra was quoted as saying. “People start playing them from 6 a.m. We can’t hear one another out on the pitch because of them.”

Argentina striker Carlos Tevez said the vuvuzelas make it hard for players to communicate.

“Those sirens or trumpets — I don’t know what they are — make it very difficult to speak on the field,” Tevez told the AP. “You have to shout and sometimes you run out of breath, you get a bit more tired. They are extremely bothersome.”

But Dutch striker Robin van Persie has the right idea about the vuvuzela.

“I think we have to respect it, because we are in South Africa, and we need to respect where we are,” he said. “This is their tradition. This belongs to them.”

Much like drinking beer and eating artery-clotting food is our tradition at football games, the vuvuzelas belong to South Africa.

Keep blowing. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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