CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The buzz over the storied football rivalry between Harvard and Yale won't be coming from vuvuzelas this weekend: Host Harvard has banned from the 127th game the plastic horns whose incessant droning filled the air during this year's soccer World Cup.
Harvard Associate Athletics Director Timothy Wheaton said in a statement this week that the noisemakers will not be allowed inside Harvard Stadium for Saturday's game in the interest of promoting good sportsmanship – a reversal from a previous position that said the horns would be allowed on a case-by-case basis.
"It has become apparent that some individuals intend to use artificial noisemakers to both disrupt play on the field and detract from the overall fan experience for many spectators," Wheaton said in the statement issued Tuesday.
The move comes after Harvard's Undergraduate Council recently voted to recommend the ban.
That was bad news for Yale freshman Jonathan Desnick, 19, of New York City, who bought 700 blue vuvuzelas with a big Y printed on them to bring to the game.
"I think it would have been a lot of fun," said Desnick, who declined to say how much he paid for the horns. "It would have gotten the energy up on the field, and maybe we would have even got our game on ESPN."
The initial possibility of the vuvuzelas at the game sparked a campaign by some Harvard students who launched "The Silence Yale Campaign" with a Facebook group.
"Silence them with the loudest instrument known to humankind – the vuvuzela," the campaign said on Facebook. "So imagine it. Hundreds of vuvuzelas buzzing in unison during Yale kickoffs, fight songs, and displays of general idiocy. Yale will not be heard."
The call for Harvard students to bring vuvuzelas to the game is what sparked Desnick to purchase his horde of horns.
"I hated the thought of Harvard students blowing their alleged 5,000 vuvuzelas across the field at us and distracting our team when it's on offense and blowing them during kickoffs and our fight song, and when our band was on the field," he said.
Desnick said he still planned to sell the horns at the tailgate for $6 each.
Harvard senior Collin Galster, 22, said he understood the need for the ban but was worried about what he called Harvard's attempt at "social control."
"The vuvuzela ban is probably a good thing by itself because the instruments are really annoying and obnoxious and distract from the game," said Galster while selling anti-Yale T-shirts Friday outside Harvard's Science Center. "But I think that overall it speaks to Harvard's, like, greater sense of trying to control student life."
Galster said the school already has so many restrictions against tailgating that it takes all the fun out of what students call "The Game."
Nina Khosrowsalafi, 20, a Harvard sophomore who was selling anti-Yale T-shirts for the Harvard University Band, said she agreed with the ban in the spirit of good sportsmanship. "Even the band has to quiet down during the game," said the clarinet player from Corpus Christi, Texas. "We don't play while the ball is in play."
On Friday, vuvuzelas weren't visible around Harvard's campus. A flyer posted around Harvard Yard, however, urged students to bring their vuvuzelas to a student comedy event Saturday evening. "Just please don't blow it," the flyer said.
Stephen Shelton, 22, a Harvard junior, said the ban is good for the football players who now can focus on making plays.
"The student body just wants to have fun," Shelton said while selling anti-Yale shirts as a fundraiser for the student group Asian American Brotherhood. "Most of us don't care about the results of the game."
When fellow students nearby questioned his assertion, Shelton quickly amended his comment. "OK, OK," he said. "We want Yale to lose."
Associated Press Writer Pat Eaton-Robb reported from Hartford, Conn.