On Monday night, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup at home for the first time in 77 years. Some sources say that the team's win was fueled by the determination to give sports reporters the chance to write articles with headlines that broadcast that the team has failed to win something at home for more than half a century, because you know a Chicago sports team is truly beloved when people track how many years it's been losing -- just look at the Chicago Cubs.
I "didn't catch" (which is the phrase people who don't care about sports are obligated to use when they miss something big/exciting) any of the Stanley Cup final on Monday night, but I was fortunate enough to hear all about Chicago's victory from someone's air horn and impromptu illegal fireworks show.
I was lying in bed on the cusp of a dream involving Arya Stark and Jaqen H'ghar from Game of Thrones. I recall a leaky ceiling, and "Oh, Me" from Nirvana's MTV Unplugged performance was playing in the background, and I was just about to settle into this puzzling scene when... EeEEeEEeERRRRRRRRRRRHH!
The landscape was stolen from my mind like someone shaking an Etch A Sketch. The air horn went off again, followed by what I assume were fireworks, but what could've also been everyone in the neighborhood microwaving silverware at the same time. As the dog barking brought me back to full consciousness, I remembered the Blackhawks were playing and assumed that something good must have happened. As I rolled over, trying to get back to Bravos, the noise continued, and I realized something very important: No sports victory justifies using an air horn.
In case you've never attended a high school football game highly attended by jerks, or your dreams haven't been interrupted by one of these noisemakers, let's learn a bit more from Wikipedia about what an air horn is:
An air horn is a pneumatic device designed to create an extremely loud noise for signalling purposes. It usually consists of a source which produces compressed air, which passes into a horn through a reed or diaphragm. The stream of air causes the reed or diaphragm to vibrate, creating sound waves, and the horn amplifies the sound so it is louder. Air horns are widely employed as vehicle horns, installed on large semi-trailer trucks, fire trucks,trains, and some ambulances as a warning device, and on ships as a signaling device.
You may have noticed, "Alerting the world that a sports team you like did something cool while early sleepers toss and turn" is not among the list of intended uses, which begs the question, unless someone is operating a large method of conveyance whose only meaningful method of communication is a loud, context-less, sense of urgency-inducing horn, why are household air horns so accessible? Shouldn't they be tucked away for zombie apocalypse-esque emergencies? I've made my share of worrisome impulse purchases at Target -- Ring Pops, Crossroads on DVD, and trendy accent pillows galore -- but how does an individual come to have an air horn at their disposal for honking during televised sporting events?
The origin of modern sports air horn usage likely began with a guy named Dave. Dave liked sports a lot, and they became a source of escapism for him. He started feeling like he won every time his team won, like his fandom had these super powers that only worked if he cared more and more about the team every season. Dave decided to change his Facebook profile photo to a picture of the athletes on this team in full uniform, and he even got the team's logo tattooed on his right leg, in a spot prominent enough for people to judge him two out of the four seasons.
One day Dave was out shopping for foam fingers and thinking about how cool it would be if his team won so he could rub it in with his rival team sports buddies for the next six to eight weeks when he happened upon an air horn display. "I don't own a boat or drive anything that requires this worst case scenario method of communication," Dave thought, but then he had an idea. He could use this air horn every time his team succeeded so people both near and far would know that he was pleased with the outcome of the game. Moreover, apathetic strangers and mellow sports fans alike would be able to infer from the sound (that could simultaneously cause a heart attack and wake a baby in the same household) that something of note happened in the professional sports arena. From that day forward, Dave's bastardization of the air horn spread, and we got to where we are today being awakened by horns in the night.
It may seem tempting to use a loud horn to share that you're happy, but let's not forget that this crude instrument is fundamentally the same style of horn you routinely use to symbolically shake your fist at other drivers. At this point in our history, horn linguistics is still in its infancy, and it's too soon to start muddying the waters with careless usage. More importantly, unless you have a barge docked somewhere, you probably shouldn't even own an air horn in the first place.
Can we come up with some alternative to celebrate late night sports victories? Has anyone heard of this thing called making a toast? Hugging? High fives? Clapping your hands? Saying "yay" or "woo"? Jumping up and down? Consuming copious amounts of alcohol in lieu of ostentatious displays of excitement that may wake others who completely respect your right to celebrate sports victories, but also selfishly enjoy a good night's sleep?
We can pick up where Dave left off. We can all choose to celebrate our favorite team's wins in a way that allows other people to sleep peacefully without fearing that a DJ who's over-using sound effects is breaking into their home. Cherish your favorite team's successes by buying some commemorative gear or going to a parade, but know that no sports victory should imbue you with a need to honk a horn. Not only is it kind of unnecessary and rude, it cheapens life's truly horn-worthy moments.
Originally published at Sass & Balderdash.