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The Deaflympics:

Also see: Deaflympics (1)
Also see: Deaflympics Snowboarding

By Matthew Easley
April 29, 2008

The Deaflympics

Deaf athletes from around the world have obstacles they must overcome daily when competing against their hearing counterparts. These athletes face barriers that range from communication with their fellow athletes to reacting to starting pistols. The Deaflympics has become a sporting venue where elite level athletes who are deaf or hard of hearing can compete against their peers in the deaf community. At the Deaflympics, athletes do not have the obstacles to overcome that they have in standard athletic competitions. They are also able to communicate and develop relationships with their fellow athletes.

The Deaflympics have been in existence since 1924 and are the “second-oldest multi-sport and cultural event in the world” (Jarvik 2005). The first session, held in Paris, was originally called the International Games for the Deaf. There were 145 athletes that competed in the first games. In the 2005 summer games in Melbourne, over 3000 athletes took part in the Deaflympics. In 1966 the games were renamed as the World Games for the Deaf and finally called the Deaflympics in 2000. The winter Deaflympics were created in 1949 and held in Austria. The next summer games will be held in 2009 followed by the winter games in 2011.

“To be a Deaf snowboarder in a race with hearing competitors is, in a single word, lonely” (Jarvik 2007). In the Deaflympics competitors can develop a feeling of camaraderie with each other that does not generally develop with hearing athletes. Although different countries have different signed languages, this is only a minimal barrier to interaction compared to communicating with the hearing (Jarvik 2007). Many hearing athletes perceive writing to each other to communicate with the deaf as not worth the effort and time consuming. This contributes to the difficulty and limitation of interaction between the hearing and deaf. Friendships are not developed as easily as between the athletes during normal competition. Having the Deaflympics provides the deaf athletes with an arena for socialization and competition. There are some modern technologies beginning to assist with the interaction between the deaf and hearing. Many competing athletes carry around T-mobile sidekicks or other texting phones to type back and forth to one another (Capps 2006).

Many sporting events have technical issues with deaf athletes that may limit their performance. Nearly every sport has audible cues and signals to manage the game or event. This is an obvious deficit for deaf athletes in standard competition with their hearing counterparts. Starter pistols for running events and whistles during an ice hockey game are among many obstacles that can present difficulties for deaf athletes. During the Deaflympics, these problems can be easily overcome with the use of flashing lights, flags and hand signals (Jarvik 2005). This allows the deaf athletes competing to do so without suffering any loss of performance due to audible cues. These adjustments create a level playing field and competitive environment for the athletes involved.

All together, the Deaflympics create a very social environment ideal for friendly competition. They bring together the elite deaf athletes of the world to compete on an international stage representing their home countries. Communication is not as big of an obstacle, bringing fellow athletes together. The Deaflympics allow these athletes to perform to their fullest potential among their peers.

Works Cited
Capps, Reilly. Telluride Daily Planet. “U.S. Deaflympic Team Chosen”. Telluride, CO. Mar 20, 2006. Telluridegateway.com. 26 Apr, 2008. http://www.telluridegateway.com/articles/2006/03/20/news/news02.txt

Jarvik, Elaine. Deseret Morning News "Deaf World Games in Utah". Deseret News (Salt Lake City). Jan 31, 2007. FindArticles.com. 26 Apr. 2008. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4188/is_20070131/ai_n17163169

Jarvik, Elaine. Deseret Morning News "Utah to host Deaflympics". Deseret News (Salt Lake City). Feb 18, 2005. FindArticles.com. 26 Apr. 2008. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4188/is_20050218/ai_n9727663
 


 


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