By Rebecca Gibian / September 10, 2018

How America’s Only Deaf Football Team Tackled the National Anthem Protests

Gallaudet University Bison contemplated how to make their voices heard on a controversial issue.

national anthem
Gallaudet University, a liberal arts college with an emphasis on career development for deaf and hard of hearing students. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

Last September, the Gallaudet University Bison, America’s only college football team for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, began to figure out whether and how to protest police violence during the national anthem. Some players had been kneeling during the anthem—it had been a year since Colin Kaepernick sat, and then took a knee, during the anthem to protest racial injustice in the country—and one player even yelled “F–k the national anthem,” into the sky at a home game. Following this incident, head coach Chuck Goldstein wanted his players to think about the protest. He encouraged them to find a way they could send a message together, as a team.

The New Yorker writes that Gallaudet’s team is a mixture of black, white, Latino, and Asian players from all over the country. Some players are deaf and communicate only through American Sign Language, others are hearing children of deaf adults, still others use cochlear implants, and some are hard-of-hearing but did not sign to communicate before arriving on campus.

“You can understand each person on the team, because each person is different. You’re from different places—different people have different struggles in life,” Goldstein told The New Yorker. Gallaudet is home to one of the country’s most politically conscious and active groups of students in the U.S., and its history with football and protest runs deep.

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