Deaf America’s Team: the rise of the Gallaudet University Bison

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aAt first glance, it is not clear that almost all people Gallaudet UniversityThe US football team, Bison, is deaf or hard of hearing. In most ways, the game proceeds just like it would at any other small university in America on Saturday. Players animatedly chest bangs after important plays. The cheerleaders try to get the crowd moving during the timeout. A fan of the away team swears out loud to the more polite cheers of those around him.

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However, some differences eventually emerge. Five strikes from a resonant bass drum alerted Gallaudet’s special team units (many of whom are engaged in sideline discussions with the coaches) of an upcoming punt and kick. In lieu of using a headset, offensive lineman John Scarborough communicates via American Sign Language (ASL) with a coach standing far above a crowded stand. And, instead of having someone sing the national anthem before kick-off, the cheerleading team performs standing in midfield in ASL.

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D'Mitri Laughton cheers up the team before the home game.
D’Mitri Laughton cheers up the team before the home game.
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Gallaudet (pronounced GAL-ee-DET, as if ‘u’ were silent) is the only liberal arts university in the world dedicated to educating students who are explicitly deaf and hard of hearing. Founded during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, Gallaudet is older than (American) football and has, in fact, played an important role in the development of the game. In 1894, concerned that other teams might interpret his team’s ASL play call if they were signed in the open, Gallaudet quarterback Paul Hubbard called his teammates a few yards from the line of scuffle to discuss tactics. But surrounded. Thus the herd was born. (there are some competing claims to the origin of the flock, but Gallaudet seems to have the strongest case, Even Hall-of-Fame University of Illinois coach Robert Zuppke, who is sometimes credited as the inventor of the huddle, admitted that he got the idea from a deaf football team. )

Sporting innovation is just a small part of Gallaudet’s legacy. The university has served as a center for the deaf community of America for more than 150 years, deliberately fostering a community in which deafness is a given rather than an exception. With that in mind, it’s worth going over some of the terminology around hearing loss.

Left: Gallaudet University alumni reunite during the game.  Right: Coach Stephen Healy signs players outside the field.
Left: Gallaudet University alumni reunite during the game. Right: Coach Stephen Healy signs players outside the field.

For example, using ‘deaf’ (with a lower-case ‘d’) two sentences ago is also an act that can upset some. Whether to capitalize the ‘D’ in ‘Deaf’ remains an unresolved debate within the deaf/deaf community. Broadly speaking, many people claim that ‘deaf’ describes all those with the audiological condition of being unable to hear, while ‘deaf’ refers to shared cultural. Norms shared by people with hearing loss, especially those for whom a signed language is their first language. However, this subtle difference is not universally observed.

‘You don’t have to be funny!’: The art of doing standup in sign language

To what extent individuals grew up around the deaf/deaf community in Gallaudet. Scarborough, the linesman who was signing his coach at the press box, grew up using the ASL and played high school football for the Texas School for the Deaf (under the “Friday Night Lights” he had in front of the state’s famous obsession) Has memories of playing high school football fanbase). Alternatively, Florida-raised defensive back Laron Thomas says, “I was the only deaf person in all of my mainstream schools in my entire life… [coming to Gallaudet] It was such a big change. Communicating with my coaches, my teammates, athletic coaches – I had access to everything ASL had to offer. It really made everything here so much more comfortable for me and eventually, it became a second home. ,

A complex relationship also exists between deafness and the concept of “disability”. On the one hand, deafness is legally considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In contrast, many members of the community themselves reject that label, instead viewing deafness as simply a physical characteristic, such as height or skin color, that is expressed through ASL, promoting their own subculture. Happens for. Well, not just a visual interpretation of English).

Gallaudet is the only liberal arts university in the world dedicated to educating students who are clearly deaf and hard of hearing.
Gallaudet is the only liberal arts university in the world dedicated to educating students who are clearly deaf and hard of hearing.

For those who are not fluent in ASL, walking around Gallaudet really feels like walking into a country with a different language and culture. There is also an off-campus Starbucks where the business operates entirely at ASL. This notion (good-natured but honest) is met with embarrassment when you realize you can’t even ask the most basic questions in the native language. Which, in many ways, is the issue – on Gallaudet’s campus, it is hearing individuals who must learn to adapt to the norms of the deaf community, not the other way around.

Multiple Gallaudet football players are inclined to insist that they do No considers himself disabled. “When I’m on the field, I feel like [as hearing people],” says offensive lineman Mitch Doliner, who considers himself hard of hearing. “I have no disability. I don’t… count me as a disabled person. ,

“We can do anything,” says linebacker Stephen Anderson. “People say ‘Deaf people can’t drive, we can’t do this, we can’t do this’ and it’s like, ‘No, we really can. Anderson knows what he’s talking about—he was named to the first-team All-Defense in his conference last season, beating out listening players from several rival universities.

Deafness, like any other trait, innate sport comes with benefits and costs. The lack of music during the pre-game warm-up throws the visiting teams out of rhythm. “I think it’s Gallaudet’s advantage,” says head coach Chuck Goldstein. “It is as calm as it may be and the teams look flat. But, for us, it’s just another day of practice… I love it.” Though they can’t bring this silent threat to the pre-game warm-up on the road, America’s only deaf college football team’s In form, Gallaudet sometimes draws such large deaf and hard of hearing crowds to away games that there are more Bison fans standing than supporters of the home team. Gallaudet is in many ways the deaf American football team.

Sports day in Gallaudet attracts athletes and fans alike.
Sports day in Gallaudet attracts athletes and fans alike. Photograph: Sarah Gulician / The Guardian

Some players think that the benefits of deafness far outweigh the environment, extending to in-game moments. “I feel I am At an advantage in a game,” says linebacker Rodney Burford, Jr.I You can talk nonsense and you can hear me. When you Talk trash, I can’t hear you… [that means] I’m already on your mind.”

The most obvious damage to deaf players during a football game is the referee’s whistle. Gallaudet coaches meet with officials beforehand to reiterate the need for visual or tactile cues with any whistling, but referees sometimes forget to do so. This can lead to punishment.

Coach Goldstein remembers a game three years earlier in which a referee failed to inform a running Gallaudet defender that the play was dead. Caught trying to overtake the other team’s offensive line, the Gallaudet defender was eventually freed and tackled the other team’s quarterback well after the game ended, resulting in a personal foul. Says Goldstein, “It was like… fourth and round on goal.” “Just before half and [the referees] ended the punishment and [the other team] The next game ended up scoring … and then we lost that game with a last-second field goal.”

Gallaudet exercises
Top: Conditioning Sprint During Precision Exercises.  Bottom: Players prepare to take a break from their group workouts for practice.
Top: Conditioning Sprint During Precision Exercises. Bottom left: Players prepare to take a break from their group workouts for practice. Bottom right: Exercise is an important part of the week.

Despite such mixing, bison continues to thrive. Last season began with five consecutive wins before ending with a trio of defeats. Players and coaches agree that this year’s goal is to win the conference. To that end, the Bison stumbled out of the gate, losing in a blow to the University of Weinsberg in the season opener.

They quickly returned as a win in their second game, however, beating Greensboro College 31–14 in a game that was nowhere close to the final score. “We came out swinging. That’s our identity, before you kill us, we have to kill you first,” Burford said. “They started hitting us in the fourth quarter…[but] We were already up. We let our backups run.”

In addition to being a much-needed victory for the Bison, the game against Greensboro included several spectacular plays. Thomas intercepts a pass in the red zone to rule out a possible Greensboro return. Burford made a huge tackle and was immediately awarded a large, plastic necklace with a bottle of Pearl Milling Company syrup, dangling in the form of a medallion (a visual sentence on the opposing player who had just been fired). Pancake is done). In the game’s most notable play, lineman Doliner threw a perfect touchdown pass on a trick play after masquerading as the holder for a field goal.

coach healy
Top: Coach Healy shares a tight bond with his players.  Bottom: Brandon Washington catches a long pass before scoring a Gallaudet touchdown against Greensboro.
Top: Coach Healy shares a tight bond with his players. Bottom: Brandon Washington catches a long pass before scoring a Gallaudet touchdown against Greensboro.

“It feels like a lot has changed in one game,” said Anderson, who himself bore at times just before halftime. Because neither Weinsberg nor Greensboro play in the same conference as Gallaudet, the team’s goal of winning the conference is still highly achievable.

The intrinsically short nature of college sports careers gives each team a slight final dance quality each season, and this year is no exception. This seems especially true for linebackers Anderson and Burford, who in addition…


Source: www.theguardian.com

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