Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Witz DOESN'T Pick: The Deaf Olympics

The Deaf Olympics-- yep-- they exist. If you're anything like me, you're furious. I believe in equal rights, gay marriage, buying alcohol on Sundays, watching Entourage and stopping global warming, but when it comes to my athletics, I'm a staunch conservative. It's not that I don't think there should be opportunities for deaf people, it's just that I want people to be able to fail just as equally as the rest of us.

Not only do the Deaf Olympics exist, but they call them THE DEAFLYMPICS. The Deaflympics sounds like a hip-hop crew, not a majestic international competition. Apparently, they have been going on for years, and you've probably heard the marketing, but couldn't really understand what was being said and just kind of smiled and nodded until it went away. This summer, they will take place in Taipei, and in the winter of 2011 The 17th Deaflympics will take place on the "smallest high mountain" in Slovakia. Clearly a lot of time and effort is going into these games, which raises the most important question: WHY DO DEAF PEOPLE NEED SPECIAL OLYMPICS (but not THE Special Olympics). Here's what The Deaflympics have to say:

"The need for separate games for deaf athletes is not just evident in the numbers of participants. Deaf athletes are distinguished from all others in their special communication needs on the sports field, as well as in the social interaction that is an equally vital part of the games."

Being deaf is a disability, but not a disability that effects sports. If being deaf is an athletic disability, then being 5'10'' with a 6'' vertical is also a disability and I want to play in the Totally Average Build Olympics (aka The Thanks For the Shit Genetics Mom and Dad Olympics). The Deaflympics site (yes, says that their are language issues, but isn't sign language the same as having to have someone translate for you? It's even better, because you can see it from farther away than you could hear someone shouting in Cantonese. There is only one scenario in which I can see a bunch of deaf athletes having a problem-- Track and Field.

Announcer: Runners ready! Aaaaand ::GUNSHOT!:: ::GUNSHOT!:: Goddamn it.

That's it. Nobody starts. Would it be that difficult to have some other cue announce the start of the race for the 1-3 events involving deaf racers? I have a tough time believing that there are millions of amazing olympic caliber athletes out there that are only being held back by their inability to hear. The previous quote would have you believe that simply because there are so many deaf people IN the Deaflympics, there are that many athletes that could compete at the Olympic level if they weren't deaf. That logic is flawed-- maybe there are 5-6 Deaflympians who would make it, but everyone else is probably more need of a Deaf Backyard Pickup Game. As Nitro says,

"Have you ever tried to run really fast when you couldn't hear where the ground was and all you could do is give your 100% focus or what you're doing given the sheer LACK of distractions? Those guys are heroes. That's like being a deaf golfer. Who gives a shit?"

The Deaflympics serve only to give complete impunity to people who want to heckle athletes (who goes to THE OLYMPICS and heckles athletes???). You can say absolutely whatever you want without the athletes knowing. Which leaves the door wide open for going to the Deaflympics and making heckle signage:

"Hey-- run faster asshole, they're RIGHT behind you!"

"Dude, you're running so fast you broke the sound barrier-- oh wait, nevermind, you're just deaf!"

"Why are you reading this sign?? You're getting distracted by a sign in the audience and throwing away your one chance at glory? You're making a joke out of The Deaflympics!"

"Wow, you're really good at rowing. I can hear MUSIC!"

Deaf competitors have an equal chance of socially interacting at the Olympics as everyone else. Hundreds of languages are represented-- I promise Lebron James doesn't speak Russian, but I bet if he wanted to, he'd find a way to communicate with them. The Olympic Committee isn't letting in more South Indian athletes just so everyone who speaks Tamil can get wasted together knock over Pakistani mailboxes with their cricket bats (this is something I believe might happen both in India and the Olympics), so why give people who "speak" sign language their own olympics? Which brings up ANOTHER question: What about the barely deaf?

The Barely Deaf have been running society for thousands of years. Ignoring what they don't feel like dealing with, but paying attention when it is to their advantage. The Barely Deaf live among us without you even knowing. You might be Barely Deaf. I might be Barely Deaf. There is no way of knowing until it is too late, and they have stolen your television, your loved ones, and ultimately, your dignity and self-respect. There is without a doubt a rift within the Summer and Winter Deaflympics. The Barely Deaf have been holding the For Realsies Deaf hostage (metaphorically, not like a big Deaf Munich-- too soon? I'm gonna make the movie Deaf Munich...then Deaf Prefontaine...Deaf The Mighty Ducks) since the very beginning of the Deaflympics-- using what small advantage they may have to take gold again and again. Ending the Deaflympics would be a huge step towards equal deaf rights, as well as equal rights in general. The time is now, and we need to hear the call to action-- because the deaf never will. Ever.

Tongue In Cheek (Is How Deaf People Sound),*

P.S. Fun note-- there are 20 Summer Deaflympics events and only 5 Winter Deaflympics events. I guess barrelling down a mountain without being to hear a gd thing isn't such a big thing. I also believe I'm good enough to play on a deaf hockey team. There, I said it.

*These are just jokes people**
**I'm still going to hell***
***Maybe I'll play in the Hellympics
****There are no Winter Hellympics


IrishGal said...

I sometimes snow-ski while listening to Tool turned all the way up. That's sorta like being deaf. I wonder if I could qualify...

Anonymous said...

What about Curtis Pride? Curtis Pride played 11 years of Major League Baseball and played for the US national soccer team. If he's that good at real sports maybe he is a deaf Super Hero?

Dave said...

One of the American Gladiators was deaf, and she still kicked the shit out of the contestants . . . and she was kinda hot in a "please don't hurt me . . . well, maybe just a little" way

Anonymous said...

Ill be honest asshole! become Deaf and see how it works out for you. And the funny thing is I am not Deaf but I do have a lot of Deaf friends and the things they have to go through that they otherwise wouldnt if they were hearing. So when you learn about Deaf Culture, Post another blog and pull your head out of your ass! Have a wonderful day =)

Just2287 said...

To start off, i wanna say that i have never been a sensitive person and have a deaf brother who jokes around with me about being deaf, so i have never taken insults too seriously. But this kinda hit a point with me and is ignorant and disrespectful. I get that you're trying to be funny and see how it could come across that way, but you obviously have no clue what you're talking about. The deaflympics are also a way for deaf athletes all over the world to meet each other and compete against each other. I can't imagine you are any type of athlete yourself or educated in any way on this topic, otherwise i don't think you would have written such a distasteful article. I have joked for years with my brother about being deaf, but this is pretty low and I now have a new outlook on that. My brother is a member of the US Deaf Olympic soccer team and the happiness in his voice and on his face when he made it was priceless. So maybe you should try to get a better understanding on topics before you so ignorantly go off on them. Again, I have never been sensitive or brash to these types of things, but this is just stupid.

Witz said...

For Just2287:

First and foremost, let me just say that I am sorry. Seriously.

As you said, these were jokes and while the jokes obviously were offensive to you and others, I do not actually care one way or the other about the Deaf Olympics beyond the fact that I am glad there is an outlet for deaf athletes to compete and have the opportunity for success or defeat.

Having played in the "Maccabi Games" aka "The Jewish Olympics" as a kid, I fully understand the community aspect that must exist. I also made fun of the Jewish Olympics for the obvious jokes that existed there (not a lot of Jews in sports).

No, I do not know anything about The Deaflympics, but yes, I am "any type of athlete." I write off the cuff barely-informed humor pieces for people to read and laugh at or to ignore and never come back. I hold no sway with anybody.

I do not remotely mean to diminish the joy your brother experienced on his soccer team (which happens to be the sport I play), and I am glad he has that opportunity. Having said that, I do not think all of my points are out of line, nor some of the logic. While some of my arguments are facetious, others still make sense.

I do not mean to genuinely offend anyone, and for that I apologize. I would urge you to read some of my other posts either to get a better perspective on my writing, or to more easily file me away as a despicable human being.

Here's one where I'm scared by my own back hair:


Just2287 said...

For Witz...

I appreciate the follow up comment and i in no way meant to come across as one of those sensitive people who doesn't have a sense of humor. I know not all of it was out of line and i understand where you were coming from. Thanks for the reply, that was cool of you.

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