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Cheering Their Ears Out Redux

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My friend and psychology colleague, Sue Frantz, alerted me to the pride the University of Kansas athletic department took this week in setting a Guinness World Record—with a 130.4 decibel crowd roar during their men’s basketball team’s come-from-behind win over West Virginia.

That took my mind to my hometown Seattle Seahawks’ pride on having the loudest outdoor sports stadium, thanks to its “12th Man” crowd noise—which has hit a record 137.6 decibels . . . much louder than a jackhammer, noted hearing blogger Katherine Bouton

As I mentioned in earlier blog post, with three hours of 100+ decibel game sound,

“many fans surely experience temporary tinnitus—ringing in the ears—afterwards . . . which is nature warning us that we have been baaad to our ears. Hair cells have been likened to carpet fibers. Leave furniture on them for a long time and they may never rebound. A rule of thumb: If we cannot talk over a prolonged noise, it is potentially harmful.”

Coincidentally, Sue Frantz’s Highline College is just 17 miles from Seahawks stadium, where, she tells me “my former postal carrier ruptured his eardrum. He said he felt the sound wave move from one end of the stadium to the other, and when it bounced back, he felt a sharp pain in his ear that faced that end of the stadium. His eardrum never recovered; his hearing loss was permanent.”

The hearing aid industry may welcome the future customers whose hearing decline is hastened by such toxic noise. But for the University of Kansas and my Seahawks, these disability-enhancing Guinness Records are matters for concern, not boasting.

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About the Author
David Myers has spent his entire teaching career at Hope College, Michigan, where he has been voted “outstanding professor” and has been selected by students to deliver the commencement address. His award-winning research and writings have appeared in over three dozen scientific periodicals and numerous publications for the general public. He also has authored five general audience books, including The Pursuit of Happiness and Intuition: Its Powers and Perils. David Myers has chaired his city's Human Relations Commission, helped found a thriving assistance center for families in poverty, and spoken to hundreds of college and community groups. Drawing on his experience, he also has written articles and a book (A Quiet World) about hearing loss, and he is advocating a transformation in American assistive listening technology (see www.hearingloop.org).