At soccer matches around the world it is common to hear three things: singing, swearing, and whistling.
But from what I've heard thus far watching the 2010 World Cup on television, a fourth noise is silencing all of those.
The suspect? A blaring vuvuzela horn.
Scratch that. Make it one million vuvuzela horns.
Recent sales estimates state over a million of the plastic noisemakers have been purchased, and if the opening matches provided any indication, they are being put to heavy use.
But whether these instruments have a place in stadiums is a hot debate raging among soccer enthusiasts.
The argument for their use is that its part of South African culture for thousands of vuvuzelas to be played during soccer matches. And since the World Cup is being played in South Africa, it only makes sense for the tradition to continue with the whole planet watching.
On the other hand, "those bloody vuvuzelas," as called by the Wall Street Journal's Robb Stewart, are seen as an annoyance and a possible health hazard.
Rather than the traditional singing and chanting famous at games around the world, both fans at the match and watching on television hear an uninterrupted flow of these plastic trumpets.
This isn't making many people, myself included, happy.
Any sudden intake of breath or cheer coming from the stands is partially, if not totally, drowned out by the ever-present vuvuzelas.
Why would anybody rather listen to what sounds like a swarm of bees descending on South Africa than the roar of a crowd 80,000 strong? In my opinion it just taints the fan aspect of soccer instead of enhancing it.
And then there's the possibility of hearing damage. While those viewing at home certainly have nothing to worry about, spectators at the matches should wear ear plugs for fear of losing their hearing.
Doctors say extended exposure to 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss. 90 minutes surrounded by people sounding off their vuvuzelas, measured at 127 decibels, could mean irreversible damage.
Of course, the easy solution is to wear ear plugs, so that problem is solvable.
But that's not all.
According to a London doctor, the vuvuzela can spread colds and flu germs, too. After blowing the horn, tiny droplets that can contain the germs form at the bottom of it. These particles can then hang in the air for hours, and be breathed in by people in the vicinity.
Ear plugs? Manageable. Surgical masks? Not so much.
I'm all for Africa showing off its cultures over the next month, but the vuvuzela has to go. It's loud, hazardous, and downright aggravating.
Consider the fans at home the lucky ones—they can mute their TV.