News flash! Deaf people are regular folks. They like football too. So why did it take a court ruling to teach the front office of the Washington Redskins this little tidbit?
Because, in possibly the most depressing football news of the week, the NFL lockout included, the Redskins didn't want to give their non-hearing fans the written version of the aural experience of an in-stadium game. Apparently turning over their JumboTrons to a string of words with a little bouncing ball -- a la every singalong to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" I've ever encountered -- was just too darn hard for them.
The National Association of the Deaf had to take the Redskins and operators at FedEx Field to court to get them to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. That means when (if?) the lockout finally ends, there will be song lyrics displayed the next time an AC/DC tune is blared in the stadium, there will be a scrolling bar of the announcements, etc., and no one can take it away.
So they won. Woohoo! But come on, football, did it really take a court to tell you that people who can't hear as well as the general population like football too ... and that you should VALUE them for it?
If anything, sports seem to be one of the great equalizers in life. Visiting the local facility for individuals with developmental disabilities, I'm always struck by how many of the folks are wearing a Yankees cap or sweatshirt, how many will tell me they love Jeter. You can be hearing or deaf, black or white, a genius or learning disabled, and all it takes is bringing up one team or the other to make your eyes light up. That's the difference between being an athlete and being a fan; we don't have to pass any special tests or have a special talent to be part of the league of fans. And loyal fans are what makes the sports world go round. It's no coincidence that the New York Yankees have 300 million Facebook fans, and were rated late last month as the most valuable franchise in Major League Baseball.
For the Redskins -- or any team -- to ignore a whole sector of their fanship isn't simply a problem with the Americans With Disabilities. It's ignoring what makes a sports fan -- simply liking a sport ... and a team. They'd do well to like us back.
What do you think of this court case?
Image via Kevin Coles/Flickr