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Photo credit: Malcolm Murdoch licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

By Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Last year, a new retractable roof installed over the Arthur Ashe Stadium at the site of the U.S. Open tennis tournament was roundly criticized for increasing the noise to unpleasant levels.The New York Times reports that before this year’s tournament began that changes were made to make the stadium quieter.

But still not enough for tennis star Rafael Nadal, who complained that the noise level interfered with his play, even as he won. At the highest levels of play, the sound of the ball coming off the racket imparts important information about velocity and spin, and when it’s too noisy, that sound can’t be heard. Nadal noted that other covered tennis stadiums–in Wimbledon and Australia–are quieter. Other players, however, were not as bothered as Nadal.

But noise in sport arenas is a problem for other sports, football in particular, where the fans make noise to interfere with play-calling. And, of course, it’s a health hazard, too.

With football season starting again, maybe this year the NCAA and NFL will join their tennis colleagues to do something about noise.