Playing Sport With a Deaf Person: A Case Study
Although the Paralympics’ development in recent years means that sport for disabled people is now a prestigious undertaking, for deaf people, many choose to play sport with hearing people – perhaps because they are good enough to compete on a level playing field with their counterparts. But unfortunately, there is still a lot of discrimination and prejudice which exists and some people will and do find it difficult to adjust – resulting in deaf people being given a rough ride when they join a new team. Here, Michael, 23, from Birmingham, tells his story – including his less than pleasing behaviour – when Danny, a new player who just happened to be deaf, joined his basketball team.
Danny’s Arrival“I remember the day Danny turned up to our training session,” says Michael. “I found it really hard to get my head around the fact a deaf lad had come to play with us and didn’t think for a second he would be able to. Looking back now, my behaviour was abhorrent, and I’m utterly ashamed.” Michael added that what made the situation worse for him was that Danny actually turned out to be really good. “That should have put my concerns to rest but in actual fact it just made me more angry – or, to tell the truth, utterly jealous. Until then, I’d ruled the show and here was this new boy threatening my spot.”
Instead of doing the team-like thing and accepting Danny and making him feel one of the team, Michael actually set about making Danny feel left out – and worse, actually actively bullying him. “My behaviour was awful,” he says. “I’m not proud, in fact, the only reason I’d confess to it now is to stop others behaving in the same way.
Abhorrent Behaviour“I used to yell at Danny for every mistake, even if he was playing better than the rest of the team put together, and most of my teammates followed me.” But there was one who did not, and it was thanks to Callum that Michael and his teammates saw the error of their ways and realised what an asset Danny was and how they had no right to behave the way they had done in any case.
“Callum was the other star of the team, along with me, before Danny arrived. But, although one of the lads, he was also a bit different from us – he never went with the pack mentality and things came to a head at one training session,” says Michael. “I was so consumed with jealousy and taken up with making snide comments about Danny that my game suffered. It was Callum who pointed this out, calmly, and suggested I should be benched until things improved. He then took me for a drink after the session and explained how he felt about me – basically that I wasn’t worthy of being on the team.