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What Say? Ohio State Fan Wants Captioning

Tony GuadagnoliContributor IJuly 20, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 27:  Ohio State Buckeyes' head coach Jim Tressel leads his team in the singing of the school's alma mater, Carmen Ohio, after the Buckeyes defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers 34-21 on September 27, 2008 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

An Ohio man, who is hearing-impaired, is suing Ohio State saying the school should offer captioning on its scoreboards because he cannot hear the announcers.

Vincent Sabino said he doesn't have the same access as other fans to radio broadcasts when he goes to the restroom or concessions.

''When I go to a game, I'm never able to follow the game,'' Sabino told the Akron Beacon Journal. ''It takes away from being a fan. It's a game experience thing.''

Being at a college football game (or any live sporting event), soaking up the atmosphere with eyes and ears, makes it different than watching on TV, but as the story says, "Sabino said he can hear with the help of hearing aids, but has trouble understanding words when there is background noise."

I don't think most fans at an Ohio State game or any other stadium can understand the PA announcer and still are easily able to follow the game on the field. When you have more than 100,000 people at a stadium, you're going to have background noise. And guess what? Part of the experience of attending a football game is the noise, especially after a big play or touchdown.

I can see Sabino's point about taking a break in the restroom or maybe concession area, but even there it is difficult to understand the broadcast. The story didn't say if Sabino has tried to bring a small portable TV with closed-captioning to the game. He could also probably bring earphones and listen to the radio broadcast like many fans. Short of this, maybe the school can try to get him a seat in a private booth that is less noisy.

An Ohio State spokesman told the Beacon Journal the school is working with Sabino's attorney and considered several options, including captioning on the scoreboards.

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I think putting captions on the stadium scoreboards actually would be a distraction for most fans. Not to be cruel, but closed captioning becomes annoying on TV after a few minutes. The suit also says Sabino wants "captioning for everything from referee calls to song lyrics."

I'm not sure what other hearing-impaired fans do, but the lawsuit seems frivolous and there seems to be several other options.

Tony Guadagnoli is the National College Football Examiner. Contact him by e-mail at tonyguad@yahoo.com.

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