As an organization that tries to promote awareness of noise-induced hearing loss, it’s bit jarring when we run across people and organizations who want to make things louder. Recently the LA Times reported on how the University of Southern California is working with architects and an acoustical consultant to make the sound more deafening in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of the Trojans college football team.
USC is trying to reach noise levels within their coliseum that rival those of the nosiest stadiums in America such as the CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks and Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs. In these stadiums, noise levels during games have been measured at over 136 dbA. That’s loud enough to make your ears hurt. It is also loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss.
Acoustics in the USC Coliseum are considered less than desirable, because the current design does not trap the noise. The Trojans risk losing a perceived competitive advantage, because their stadium is so quiet compared to their competitors’ stadiums. The experts are proposing building a canopy over the stands in the stadium so that it will reflect and hold the noise in.
As long as society continues to embrace the notion that “noise equals fun”, the more it is likely that predictions made by the World Health Organization will come true. In March of this year, WHO estimated that 1.1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss, due to unsafe listening habits. That includes stadium noise. The USC would be well advised to check out the research and rather than creating noise for the sake of noise, take the lead and promote a safer listening experience for fans. And in the meanwhile, don’t forget to take hearing protection the next time you go out to cheer for your favourite team.