ASL University ►

Basketball and the Deaf:

By Katie Wilken

The game of basketball has always had a great appeal to fans, coaches, but especially players. They enjoy the action and thrill of the game. Although the game can be easily played by amateurs, basketball has a large professional side to it as well.

The sport is enjoyed by communities all over the world. This is true of the Deaf community as well. A Deaf person has two choices when he wants to play the game. He can either compete in a Deaf league where rules are made to make it fair for those playing. Or one can play in Hearing divisions. Although a Deaf person may face more challenges playing in a Hearing basketball game than in a Deaf league, there are advantages to either, and one can see this by looking at both sides of the spectrum.

One major Deaf league is the DIBF. The DIBF or the Deaf International Basketball Federation was founded Friday, July, 27th 2001. Before then Deaf basketball had been centered mainly around the Deaflympics. This organization also has many other sports which Deaf compete in, but at that time there was not an international organization for the Deaf to compete in. A meeting came about which would start to turn the wheels in the international world of Deaf basketball. In the meeting the participants concurred that the Deaf community needed a governing body in which to improve the standard for the competition in this division of the sport (DIBF).

The rules that govern the DIBF even the playing field, and maintain the original goals of the league. First, hearing aids and cochlear implants are not allowed on the court during competition, as they can cause an unfair advantage among the players. If one is found to be wearing one of these devices they will be ejected from the game. Secondly, the players involved with the organization must have a hearing loss of 55 decibels of more. Thirdly, one or both of the refs should be Deaf, but this is not necessarily a requirement. And lastly, no restrictions are placed on signing, except that just like hearing games there should be no foul communication.


Looking at this league we can see how this and many other Deaf leagues can open a whole new world for the Deaf in the area of basketball, but on the other side we can see how Deaf become involved in Hearing basketball games, and how adaptations can be made to accommodate these players, and what they must overcome in order to play this level.

An example of this is Micheal Lizarraga. He is the only Deaf athlete competing in NCAA Division I Men's basketball. Sometimes Deaf are misunderstood by others on the team and the coaching staff, such as Lance Allred, but in the case of Lizarraga that is far from the truth (Mike). He has not only succeeded in playing the game, as this year he has started eight games and averaged 2.3 points and 2.2 rebounds. But also he has opened many athletes', coaches', and fans' eyes to the Deaf community and the amazing world of American Sign Language (Markazi).

One way or another a Deaf person can greatly enjoy the game of basketball, whether that be playing in a league specifically for the Deaf or playing in a Hearing person's league. The camaraderie of teamwork and a strong work ethic can be obtained through this sport either way.

Works Cited:

About Us - History." DIBF About Us - History. Web. 14 May 2012.

Fitzpatrick, Lauren. "Deaf Basketball Rules." LIVESTRONG.COM. 29 May 2010. Web. 14 May 2012.

"Mike Responts: The Blog." Mike Responts: The Blog. 17 Mar. 2008. Web. 15 May 2012.Markazi, Arash.

"Deaf Player's Teammates See Inspiration." ESPN LA, 13 Mar. 2010. Web. 15 May 2012.


Also see: Basketball and the Deaf (2)

You can learn American Sign Language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University
ASL resources by    Dr. William Vicars

Want to help support ASL University?  It's easy DONATE (Thanks!)
(You don't need a PayPal account. Just look for the credit card logos and click continue.)

Another way to help is to buy something from the ASLU "Bookstore."

Want even more ASL resources?  Visit the "ASL Training Center!"  (Subscription Extension of ASLU)   CHECK IT OUT >

Bandwidth slow?  Check out "" (a free mirror of less traffic, fast access)   VISIT >


back.gif (1674 bytes)