This past week the Seattle Seahawks announced that they would not be allowing anyone with a California billing address to purchase tickets to Sunday’s playoff game between their team and the San Francisco 49ers. On the surface, this seems rather unsportsmanlike. On the other hand, perhaps they are doing the 49er fans a favor.

Seattle-noise-100x100The stadium design for CenturyLink Field keeps the crowd noise confined and concentrated. This allows the noise levels to increase and stay high.  In their previous game against the New Orleans Saints, they set a new noise record according to this NBCSports article:


Take that, Arrowhead.

The ping-pong of noise records continues, with the Seahawks fans at CenturyLink Field setting a new high water mark for sound during Monday night’s game against the Saints.

As evidenced by a photo posted by the Seahawks at the team’s Twitter page, the 12th Man has cranked up a peak noise level of 137.6 decibels.

That’s 0.03 decibels higher than the maximum level generated in October by Chiefs fans, who had beaten the record of 136.6 set in Seattle during a Week Two game against the 49ers.

With only 12.4 more decibels, ear drums will begin to rupture.


You can see the original article here.

Now according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, these are dangerous levels of noise as shown in a chart on their site:

Which noises can affect hearing?

Level of safety Decibels (Approximately) Type of noise
Danger: Permanent hearing loss may occur 140 Firecrackers; rock concert
110 Chain saw; snowmobiles
Warning: Gradual hearing loss may occur over time 90 Lawnmower; motorcycle
Safe 80 Traffic noise
60 Normal conversations
30 Whispering

You can read more about what Johns Hopkins has to say about noise induced hearing loss on their site.

So as you can see, by not letting us buy tickets, they are doing us a favor.  But, that begs the question: Why isn’t someone doing something about those dangerous noise levels?

While one could argue that the noise is self-inflicted by the Seattle fans, the workers at the stadium are entitled to some protection.  In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA has regulations and standards regarding noise. Here is what they say about it:
  Duration per day, hours   | Sound level dBA slow response
8...........................|                    90
6...........................|                    92
4...........................|                    95
3...........................|                    97
2...........................|                   100
1 1/2 ......................|                   102
1...........................|                   105
1/2 ........................|                   110
1/4  or less................|                   115
 Footnote(1) When the daily noise exposure is composed of two or
more periods of noise exposure of different levels, their combined
effect should be considered, rather than the individual effect of
each. If the sum of the following fractions: C(1)/T(1) + C(2)/T(2)
C(n)/T(n) exceeds unity, then, the mixed exposure should be
considered to exceed the limit value. Cn indicates the total time of
exposure at a specified noise level, and Tn indicates the total time
of exposure permitted at that level. Exposure to impulsive or impact
noise should not exceed 140 dB peak sound pressure level.

You can read more about the OSHA requirements here.

The first thing to notice is that the OSHA standards don’t even go up to 135 dB, let alone 137.6 dB!  At 110 dB exposure should be limited to 1/2 hour or less.  Increasing that by 5 dB cuts the exposure time in half.  If we project their data out, cutting exposure time in half for each 5 dB increment, the maximum exposure time at 135 dB would be 56.25 seconds.  While this may not be completely accurate, the real number is certainly shorter than the average opposing team drive!

So based on that, one must ask:  If the noise levels are dangerous, why isn’t OSHA doing something to at least protect the hundreds of workers at the stadium?… Oh wait! The Washington State office of OSHA is in Seattle.  Could they be Seahawks fans?

Be that as it may, I think we should all thank Seattle while we are sitting in our living rooms this weekend watching the game at safe and sane noise levels!

What do you think?  Should Seattle sell tickets to California residents?  Are they doing us a favor by not doing it?  Should the Seahawks be made to comply with workplace safety standards?  Leave your comments and thoughts below.

Jim was born in Oakland and with the exception of his 7 years in the Air Force, has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area his entire life. He is an avid fan of San Francisco and its surrounds and enjoys the beauty, culture and diversity it affords. He enjoys being able to take day trips to the ocean, the desert or to some of the highest peaks on the continent. He likes having the ability to travel from a metropolis with millions of people to a quiet spot with only nature around him within a few hours of driving time.