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Harvard Bans Vuvuzelas for Its Season-Ending Football Game Against Yale

The deafening drone of vuvuzelas won’t be heard at the 127th football game between Harvard University and Yale University.

Harvard yesterday banned the plastic horns made popular during June’s soccer World Cup in South Africa because of their potential to distract and disturb players, band members and fans. The season-ending game is scheduled to kick off at 12 p.m. local time on Nov. 20 at Harvard Stadium in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“Artificial noisemakers will not be permitted inside the ticketed footprint of Harvard Stadium,” Tim Wheaton, Harvard’s associate director of athletics, said in a statement.

Students, football players and band members from both schools objected to the vuvuzelas because the blast reaches 127 decibels, compared with 100 decibels from a chainsaw, said Elliot Eaton, a senior and drum major, conductor and musical director for the Yale Precision Marching Band.

“If you have thousands of students with vuvuzelas on both sides of the stadium that is painful, that is miserable, that is not effective for showing school spirit,” said Eaton.

Eaton and other band members expressed their concern about the noise level to the Harvard administration. Eaton said he was originally told that Harvard would allow the horns and reserve the right to confiscate them if need be.

UEFA Ban

While soccer’s world governing body FIFA declined to ban vuvuzelas during the World Cup, its European counterpart UEFA said in September that the horns will be prohibited at its club and international competitions.

“For the sake of the older alumni coming back to the game, the bands of either team and the players themselves, Harvard needs to do the right thing and ban vuvuzelas,” Yale junior quarterback Patrick Witt said in an e-mail before the ban was announced.

The horns became popular when Eric Cervini and Johnathon Davis, both Harvard freshmen, started a “Silence Yale” campaign last month. The friends sold their first order of 300 vuvuzelas almost immediately and, in conjunction with a few upperclassmen, had sold more than 2,000 when the ban was announced.

“We’re definitely going to work with the athletic department here to see if there’s something we can work out,” Cervini said in a telephone interview. “We’re going to try to get a petition out from some of the football players and see if we can prove that the athletes want them, and obviously a lot of the spectators want them as well.”

700 Horns

In New Haven, Connecticut, Yale freshman Jonathan Desnick heard about the vuvuzelas on Harvard’s campus and bought 700 blue horns to sell to Bulldogs fans. Desnick was joined in the endeavor by Yale’s Branford College Council, which has been selling the vuvuzelas since last week.

Cervini said that the Harvard undergraduate council on Nov. 15 passed a recommendation to the administration that the horns be banned. Wheaton didn’t immediately return a voicemail seeking details on Harvard’s decision to prohibit the horns.

“Even if we can’t bring them into the stadium, the biggest part of the Harvard-Yale game, at least for the students there is the tailgate,” said Cervini. “At least we’ll have them there.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Eben Novy-Williams in New York enovywilliam@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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