Are professional athletes getting more than they bargained for?

Are professional athletes getting more than they bargained for?


With the Superbowl having just passed us, excitement built for the big game last weekend. As athletes stayed focused to win the coveted Superbowl trophy, and as they worked out their communication strategies for the field, little did they know that they may be getting more than they bargained for each time they step on the field.

Noise exposure in many professional sports is an issue that is just recently starting to be addressed. Many arenas/stadiums have excessive noise levels, often exceeding 100 decibels, which puts the players, spectators, and other attendees at risk for hearing loss after just 15 minutes or less. Considering a football game lasts more than 3 hours, or a basketball game more than 2 hours, that puts everyone at risk for developing hearing loss.

It is important for spectators to be aware of the noise levels and take appropriate action to protect their hearing. However, professional athletes get exposed to these noise levels every game day. This exposure can add up to lead to significant communication difficulties over the course of an athlete’s career.

The 2013 Superbowl was held at the Mercedez-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. This stadium is known for being excessively loud, creating a home field advantage for the home team, the New Orleans Saints during the regular season. Brett Favre, after a 2009 NFC Championship game at this superdome, was quoted as saying “that was, by far, the most hostile environment I’ve ever been in. You couldn’t hear anything.” Brett Favre elected to wear earplugs at that stadium to protect his hearing.

The next time you settle in to watch a sporting event, take a moment and listen to the sounds of the stadium and imagine how loud it actually is in the arena.