Football and hearing issues came together for the Super Bowl

Derrick Coleman
Derrick Coleman

By David H. Kirkwood

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—There were a lot of hearing angles to the 2014 Super Bowl, played last Sunday in New Jersey. For one thing, there was the Seattle Seahawks’ much heralded (and much criticized) “12th Man,” as the team’s incredibly noisy legion of fans came to be known. As noted by ASHA’s Joe Cerquone on the Hearing Views blog, the din created by these fans at Seattle home games has been measured at up to 136.6 dB.

This may have helped inspire the home team while discombobulating visiting teams, who have jumped offside at an unusually high rate. The Seahawks have won 17 of their past 18 home games at CenturyLink Field, the best home record of any team in the National Football League (NFL) over the past two seasons. On the other hand, it’s virtually certain that fans who failed to wear effective ear protection to the games have been paying a high price for their team’s success in the form of tinnitus and hearing loss.

On a happier note, Seattle backup fullback, Derrick Coleman, has become a hero for his remarkable personal story.

Despite having had profound hearing loss since early childhood, Coleman defied the odds and the naysayers. First he became a football star at UCLA and then, despite going undrafted and being released by the Minnesota Vikings, he refused to give up. He won a spot with the Seahawks, and also became a star of a YouTube video sponsored by Duracell Batteries, which has been viewed more than 18 million times.

 

HEARING CARE ORGANIZATIONS JOIN THE PARTY

Riley and Erin Kovalcik in Seahawk shirts and hearing aids.
Riley and Erin Kovalcik in Seahawk shirts and hearing aids.

Coleman’s inspiring story also caught the attention of Oticon, whose U.S. headquarters in Somerset, NJ, is just 40 miles from East Rutherford, where Super Bowl XLVIII was played.

Recently, 9-year-old Riley Kovalcik, a hearing aid wearer from Roxbury, NJ, wrote to Coleman, telling him he was an “inspiration” to her. Her letter and his heartfelt response captured nationwide media attention. So, Oticon brought Riley and her twin sister, Erin, to pre-game media events. There they showed their support for Coleman’s team by wearing their Seahawks blue-and-green Oticon Sensei hearing aids.

Meanwhile, the day before the big game, Derrick Coleman joined a host of pro athletes and other celebrities at a service mission sponsored by the Starkey Hearing Foundation and hosted by the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York. The running back, who attended the event with his parents and sister, volunteered and received a new pair of hearing devices.

Other volunteers at the event included active and former NFL stars Larry Fitzgerald, A.J. Green, and Tommie Harris; the TV actor Daymond John; Yankee manager Joe Girardi; the singer Garth Brooks; and Barbara Bush, daughter of former President George W. Bush. During the two-day mission, more than 100 people were given hearing aids.

Derrick Coleman signing an autograph for a fan at Yankee Stadium.
Derrick Coleman signing an autograph for a fan at Yankee Stadium.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GALLAUDET GRIDDERS WIN HEARSTRONG AWARD

While Derrick Coleman is one of the few NFL players who wear hearing aids, a whole team of college players with hearing loss was honored the day before the Super Bowl by the HearStrong Foundation. The foundation, which is sponsored by EarQ, celebrates individuals worldwide who have “not only faced hearing loss, but conquered it with a determined spirit, a focused mind and an unwavering heart!”

The 2013 Gallaudet Football Team
The 2013 Gallaudet Football Team

At an NFL Player’s Association event held February 1 event in Manhattan, the Gallaudet University head football coach, Chuck Goldstein, and the team’s five senior co-captains, Ryan Bonheyo, Nicholas Elstad, Mike Hantge, Chris Langan, and Adham Talaat, accepted the HearStrong Foundation’s Champion Award on behalf of the whole team.

Last fall, the Gallaudet gridders had their best season ever, qualifying for its first-ever NCAA Division III playoff game.

 

AND THEN THEY PLAYED

After all the hoopla, the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos finally played the game on February 2. And, as you may have heard, Seattle won 43-8. The 12th Man couldn’t take credit for this one, as most of the seats were filled, not with Seahawk and Bronco fans, but with relatively quiet folks who had the right connections to get tickets.

While he didn’t get to carry the ball, Derrick Coleman did make a mark. Playing on Seattle’s special teams, he raced downfield on the opening kickoff and made a hard tackle on the Bronco return man at the 14. He seemed to be telling Denver that it wasn’t going to be their day.


1 Comment

  1. The dangers of permanent, noise induced hearing loss due to attending a football game became apparent to me when seeing a middle aged woman with no other noise exposure and a severe high frequency hearing loss, complete with the classic 4K “boiler maker’s” notch.

    This woman serves as a local head nurse at our local hospital and has been wearing hearing aids for several years due to this issue. Amazingly her ENT advised that there was “no way” attending a football game could give her this type of loss.

    The research, and evidence certainly speaks differently, as we have a whole industry with it’s head in the proverbial sand. OSHA’s allowable exposure tables shows safe exposure levels at 15 minutes for 85dB.

    There simply is no safe exposure time for the dB levels bragged about in some of these college and pro stadiums. That this issue is being ignored speaks greatly to where our nation puts it’s values.

    However, ignoring this issue does not negate it’s harm, or the incredible potential for class action litigation, given that each and every single fan, player, vendor and employee is being knowingly exposed to levels of sound known to cause permanent harm.

    Time for the plaintiff’s bar to step up to the challenge of reigning in sports and entertainment induced noise damage. Obviously those entities engaged have no interest in remedying the problem.

    http://www.aadvancedhearingcare.com/1/post/2013/09/gator-fans-risk-permanent-hearing-loss-from-noise-levels-in-the-swamp.html

Comments are closed.