December 1, 2013
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Chapel Hill: The National Football League has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for encouraging its teams to break world records for noisy stadiums. The NFL’s actions risk the health of millions of fans and reflect America’s growing culture of noise.
On September 16, 2013, fans at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field set a new world record for noise at a football stadium, at 136.6 decibels. Phil Robertson, a judge from the Guinness Book of World Records, favorably compared the extreme noise at the Seahawks game to the extreme noise generated by soccer fans: “It’s a far louder, tribal kind of passion,” and “the sound is more continuous,” he said. “There’s passionate people in soccer, but here you see veins bulging out of necks.”
Not to be outdone, on October 13, 2013, Kansas City Chiefs fans at Arrowhead stadium beat the record, recording a deafening 137.5 decibels. The official Chiefs Twitter account boasted, “RECORD BROKEN! 137.5 DECIBELS! #LoudAndProud.”
The NFL clearly supports and encourages this dangerous noise. Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, stated that “fans know they are going to a football game and not searching for a book at the library.”
Many NFL fans also support the noisemaking. A Kansas City Chiefs fans wrote on Facebook, “Be LOUD AND PROUD and blow my eardrums out! Another Chiefs fan wrote on a message board, “I was at Arrowhead stadium yesterday and it was REAL loud! My voice is still suffering from all the yelling. Good stuff! Go Chiefs!”
Joe Tafoya, a former Seattle Seahawks linebacker, helped organize the Seattle scream-a-thon. After a group devoted to hearing conservation expressed concerns about the noise, he told The New York Times, “I had no idea. When we started this, it wasn’t something I had thought about.”
Indeed. Many Americans have little idea of the physical damage from exposure to excessive noise. For most people, exposure to noise above 125 decibels causes physical pain. Exposure to noise above 140 decibels causes permanent hearing loss.
Auditory experts are issuing warnings about prolonged exposure to very noisy environments. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends limiting exposure to noise of 90 decibels and above to no more than 60 minutes. NIOSH notes that “each year, approximately 30 million people in the United States are occupationally exposed to hazardous noise.” NIOSH notes that “each year, approximately 30 million people in the United States are occupationally exposed to hazardous noise.”
Dr. Charles Liberman, a professor of otology at Harvard Medical School, stated that “people think it’s cool or funny or whatever, but there is increasing evidence that if your ears are ringing, damage is happening. There’s something irreversible going on. It’s only going to worsen as you get older.”
Andy Reid, coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, suffered from the extreme noise at Arrowhead stadium. He told a New York Times reporter that he could “feel the ground shaking” and that he later heard ringing in the ears.
Ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus, is a serious medical condition. The ringing may or may not go away. The continuous ringing sounds can be physically disabling. “The National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that up to 10 percent of the United States population has permanent tinnitus.
Ted Rueter, Noise Free America’s director, commented that “the NFL should not be encouraging its teams 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.”