Collegiate Sports and Noise

A plea for quiet.

March 31, 2016

Who made the decision that loud music should be played each time the action stops at live sporting events?

And why has this practice migrated to the collegiate level - where standard practice across the nation now seems to be to blast music between periods and innings, during halftime, and sometimes even during timeouts?

With all the challenges around collegiate sports, not to mention everything else going on in higher ed, perhaps it seems strange to focus on the rising noise level during games?

Between inning music that is too loud to have a conversation with the person sitting next to you, much less think, would seem to qualify as an obvious “first world problem.”

I beg to differ.

Cranking the music decibels at collegiate athletic events is one element of our culture's move away from quiet.

The same impulse that drives airports to place loud TVs in every boarding gate, and car dealerships and dentists office to do the same in every waiting room, is also pushing our athletic departments to blast the music.

We no longer seem to think that conversation and contemplation are goals worth enabling. Everyone needs to be constantly stimulated.  Forgoing any opportunity to entertain and inform is viewed as a failure - the equivalent of radio dead air.

Opening a book during stoppages of play to catch up on some reading (perhaps even class reading) is impossible if the music is too loud to think.

And not sound too much like Andy Rooney - but is it just me - or has public noise (music, TVs, etc.) gotten louder over the years?  All this public noise can’t be good for our long-term hearing.

Actually - it is not just me worried about public noise. My colleague, Steve Swayne, has written about the threat to our hearing from the constant assaults on our ears. 

Our colleges and universities should be places that lead the culture. This requires a willingness at some times to go against what is popular, common, and maybe even what many people would like.

How would students react to quiet between dead balls? Would they complain that the energy level is too low - the entertainment not entertaining enough?

Or maybe the quiet would enable our students (and everyone else attending the games) to think about what collegiate athletics should really be about.

Are you also a (sports) fan of quiet?

Where do you wish for less noise?



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