Miss Deaf America upset she’s unseen at Super Bowl
By Jamie Sotonoff
February 7, 2012
During the Super Bowl, television cameras showed everything from Eli
Manning’s young family to hip-hop singer M.I.A.’s obscene gesture.
Yet, they didn’t for one second show the National Association of the
Deaf’s Miss Deaf America Rachel Mazique — an Arlington Heights native
and Hersey High School alumna — as she signed the national anthem and
“America the Beautiful.”
Mazique doesn’t believe she appeared on the stadium’s Jumbotron,
either; wasn’t invited to stay for the game; and wasn’t placed near
singers Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton.
Even though she says she was never promised television exposure (but
was told to smile the whole time, just in case), her treatment at the
big game has upset many people in the deaf community, especially those
in the suburbs. Now her supporters are rallying for an apology from NBC
and the NFL through an online petition at change.org.
As of Monday night, more than 1,000 people had signed the petition,
including some from as far away as New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
“We are very upset by this,” said Angie Kubiak of Mount Prospect, who
is deaf and whose husband and three sons also are deaf. “We waited and
waited to see Rachel appear to perform, only to be disappointed.
Everyone of all ages in the deaf community across the country was
expecting to see Rachel Mazique appear on TV, even if only for a few
seconds. We thought we would see something even go on the Internet. She
has nothing from NBC.”
No one from the NBC or NFL could be reached for comment Monday night.
Mazique said she was grateful to sponsors PepsiCo and EnAble for
allowing her to sign at the game as the NAD ambassador but was “very
disappointed” about the missed opportunity to show the world American
Sign Language. She questioned the point of her appearance, since her
signing wasn’t visible to an audience.
“The hope was to bring national visibility to songs signed in ASL. It
would have been wonderful to showcase ‘America the Beautiful’ and the
national anthem in ASL on television,” she said. “I truly hope that
this becomes a teachable moment for everyone involved, and that
American Sign Language renditions of these iconic songs are broadcast
in future Super Bowls rather than being a token gesture.”
Mazique, who now is teaching and working on her Ph.D. at the University
of Texas, is hailed as a role model for the deaf community. By keeping
her out of the spotlight on what turned out to be the most watched
television show in history, NBC and the NFL missed a chance to show the
world that deaf people can be successful and that sign language is
beautiful, said petition creator Kate Spencer, a former college
“What an insult,” Kubiak said.