Sports helped deaf students forge a special bond. Players learned sportsmanship, leadership, and teamwork. Students rooted for their classmates. Regional competitions with other schools for deaf children routinely drew large deaf audiences and were a time of celebration and sharing.
Gallaudet players in this 1927 photo are in "signal practice" for an upcoming football game. Gallaudet is considered by many to be the home of the football huddle. Players started using the huddle in the late 1800s to prevent opposing teams from learning their plays.
Gallaudet University Archives, Number 14692-6A
Gift of Reuben I. Altizer, '30
Deaf athletes competed against students from public schools and from other schools for deaf students. Here, the 1898 football line-up of the Colorado School for the Deaf poses for a team photo.
Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind
Teams from Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, and Alabama shiver in the snow, above, as they pose for the southern basketball tournament photo in February 1928. Tournaments brought together deaf students and alumni from different schools, and intense rivalries made for some high-spirited play.
North Carolina School for the Deaf Historical Museum