I bet FIFA wasn't banking on the absolutely out-of-control media coverage of South Africa's vuvuzelas as a side show to the World Cup. But the circus around these incredibly obnoxious horns has been even more entertaining than the games themselves in some cases. (Sorry folks -- even in the first round, I hate games that end in a tie.)
Vuvuzelas have been such a hot-button issue that already other sporting events or stadiums are taking a stand:Wimbledon officially banned the horns this week, as did the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the Big Ten Conference. But the South Eastern Conference (SEC) has said "screw it" and is allowing them at its stadiums. (The sound you hear is major donors picking up their phones to cancel their season tickets this year.)
In addition, YouTube has now jokingly added a "vuvuzela button" to its videos, which allows the user to add the annoying horn drone to the audio of all its videos.
Hate the damn things? Then there's a Facebook group for you, now more than 300,000 members strong: "FIFA - Ban the Annoying Vuvuzela (Horn) From the South Africa World Cup!"
I credit FIFA for standing behind the host country and not banning the horns during matches, despite complaints from the teams (that they can't communicate on the field) and from fans both at the games (poor, deaf souls) and the ones watching the games on television (they're lucky enough to have a mute button).
But with all the backlash so far from that decision, rumors are flying on whether FIFA will change its mind and ban the horns from the playoff matches.
For a while, I stood behind allowing the vuvuzela horn at games, saying it was part of South Africa's tradition and if FIFA chose that country to host, it was choosing the whole ball of wax. Teams and coaches should have done their research ahead of time and plannd for the vuvuzela possibility.
But while arguing about -- I mean, discussing -- that with my husband, he trumped me with this point, hitting me right where it hurts: the vuvuzelas are the kiss of death for any African country that now wants to bid on the World Cup. Meaning an entire continent will miss out on their chance for all that money, advertising and prestige that comes with being a host county.
Oh, well when you put it in sports business terms ....
Seriously, I have to agree. The only way an African county now will get to host is if they make a pre-emptive strike and including a vuvuzela ban in their bid. That's a pretty big setback for Africa tourism.
And the whole vuvuzela craze is turning into a bit of a PR gaffe for South Africa. Instead of its beuautiful beaches, wild animals and unique foods, the tourism message is, "Welcome to South Africa. Now cover your ears because we don't give a damn."