Super Bowl Broadcast Proves Sign Language Underestimated

I was excited to hear that Marlee Matlin would be signing the American National Anthem (“The Star-Spangled Banner”) at Super Bowl XLI, but was disappointed to see her on television only during the phrase “the bombs bursting in air.” Whatever happened to the “signer in the bubble”? I would think they could put an Academy Award-winning deaf actress in a picture-in-picture “bubble” so that her performance of our National Anthem could be enjoyed throughout the duration of the song. Apparently, the director of the televised broadcast underestimated ASL and its many users.

I would like to believe that in the year 2007, accessibility for deaf people and the beauty of ASL would be esteemed by American society. Sadly, the Super Bowl XLI broadcast reminds me that American Sign Language and Deaf Culture are still relegated to a momentary side show.






6 responses to “Super Bowl Broadcast Proves Sign Language Underestimated”

  1. Daniel Greene Avatar

    What’s even sadder is I just found out that the fleeting glimpses of Marlee Matlin were déjà vu of the fleeting glimpses of Phyllis Frelich signing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in 1998! (Ironic, considering that Marlee Matlin starred in the movie version of Children of a Lesser God playing the character Phyllis Frelich created on Broadway, but I digress…) Apparently, this is an example of what is called Jonah Syndrome.


  2. Singin’ & Signin’ » Blog Archive » Where was ASL, Deaf Presence in Super Bowl XLII? Avatar

    […] this year’s coverage of the signing of the Star Spangled Banner was even less satisfying than last year’s. Last year, we at least got to watch Marlee Matlin signing “bombs bursting in air” on […]


  3. *Boston Avatar

    Saw Orion’s site… wow… too bad he didn’t get the recognition he deserved… as for Marlee, I missed it! I just blinked my eye and I missed her! I remember vaguely she was wearing reddish outfit… good riddance!



  4. Daniel Greene Avatar

    Thank you for your comment, Jason. I recommend anyone reading this also read Jason’s Super Bowl XLI interpreting story at


  5. Jason Avatar

    Marlee was not the only interpreter on the field. Jason Hay-Southwell was confirmed on Jan 19th, 2007 but due to not having a press agent nor being as pretty as she, he got no air time nor ANY recognition. He has Deaf parents and has been an RID nationally certified interpreter for more than 20 years. He lives in South Florida.


  6. Karen Avatar

    I was disappointed too, especially since I had my kids watching and they missed the few seconds that were broadcasted.


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