Referees May Be Going Deaf Because Of Their Whistles, Still No Word On What’s Causing Their Blindness

Say what you will about that ref who made that hard call in that game that cost you your house, your car and the use of your legs. They still have one of the hardest jobs in sports.

They have to make tough, objective calls that could mean the difference between victory and defeat. Meanwhile, they have a crowd of drunken, screaming, foaming fans calling for their head to be removed from their bodies and bounced around the stadium like a fleshy beach ball — and that’s just in Philly.

It turns out that being headless may be one of the smaller things they have to worry about while they work. A new study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (the only trade magazine that makes drinking on the job seem less fun) found that the whistles that referees use to stop plays and grab players’ attention could be contributing to their hearing loss.

Apparently, referees suffer from a common malady that they dub “referee’s ear” and it’s more than just a hazard of the occupation. The study found that almost half of those they interviewed and studied reported early symptoms that were consistent with permanent hearing loss such as tinnitus. The whistle is the most likely culprit because out of all the possible noises one could hear at a game, the ref’s whistle can reach noise levels up to 106 decibels. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (motto: Speak up!), that’s the same as having a running snowblower right in front of their face every time they blow it. We’re sure they meant the whistle and not something else the crowd suggests when they miss a call.

via NY Times

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