by Matthew Fairborn

October 20, 2015

Orchard Park, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills fans made a run at history Sunday when they attempted to break the record for the loudest crowd at an NFL game. Guinness World Records showed up and documented the effort, but the noise level at Ralph Wilson Stadium never reached record levels.

While the Bills pride themselves on their crowd noise and the home-field advantage it provides, not everyone is amused by the effort to be the loudest crowd in the league. In fact, some consider the attempt ridiculous and irresponsible.

In a letter to the editor, Ted Rueter, the director of Noise Free America, explains why.

Below is the letter:

To the editor,

On Sunday, September 20, Buffalo Bills fans attempted to set a new world record for the loudest crowd at a sports stadium. Seventy thousand screaming fans at “The Ralph” attempted to break the record held by the Kansas City Chiefs, whose fans created 142.2 decibels of sound (which is equivalent to a jet engine at takeoff).

Apparently, Bills fans failed in this effort, as the Guinness Book of World Records did not reveal the results of the decibel reading.

This was a ridiculous effort by Bills fans and management. Many Americans have little idea of the physical damage from exposure to excessive noise. For most people, exposure to nose above 125 decibels causes physical pain. Exposure to noise above 140 decibels causes permanent hearing loss.

Hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing of the ears) are major problems. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health notes that “each year, approximately 30 million people in the United States are occupationally exposed to hazardous noise.” The National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that up to 10 percent of the United States population has permanent tinnitus.

The Buffalo Bills and the NFL should not be encouraging fans to break noise records. The NFL has a responsibility to protect its players, coaches, and fans from the physical dangers of excessive noise. The NFL is contributing to a dangerous trend: the idolatry of loudness.

Ted Rueter
Director, Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet
Chapel Hill, N.C.