No Cut Policy for Sports in Deaf Schools

Part One

Part Two

Vlog Summary: New research findings related to sports psychology and child development have resulted in more progressive-thinking schools adopting no-cut policies when it comes to their athletic programs. Deaf schools, with their unique responsibility of providing academic and athletic education opportunities to Deaf students, should follow suit and allow all interested students to participate in their athletic programs. Cut policies are outdated and harmful.

In this vlog, Sharon M. Duchesneau reviews 11 myths and facts about no-cut policies for school sports programs, drawing on an article published by college professors and researchers, Dr. Stephen C. Jefferies and Dr. Vincent M. Nethery. For those who may prefer to read the article quickly, it can be accessed by clicking on the link below.


Jefferies, S. & Nethery, V. (2008). Cutting Kids from Athletics: Truths, Myths, and Misperceptions. Central Washington University. Retrieved (June 16, 2008), from http://www.cwu.edu/%7Ejefferis/framesetck.html.

To cite: Duchesneau, S. (2008). No Cut Policy for Sports in Deaf Schools. ASC on the Couch. Retrieved (date retrieved), from http://www.ascdeaf.com/blog/?p=344.

  1. Jenn June 16, 2008

    I agree, this is a bad policy. I know of some deaf school students who cannot attend extracurricular events they are interested in because they can’t risk cutting their sports practice or they will be cut from the team.

    What about special science fair or art contests? Dinners in which the student can be honored or network for future jobs? NOOOO, football (or whatever) comes first, the student can’t attend. Even religious holidays (for non-christians) can cause a conflict.

    It’s not fair to ask a child to choose between playing on a team with their friends and the rest of their life.

    In my opinion, parents and students need to revolt against this policy and demand school administrations change this.

  2. Susan June 16, 2008

    I am a mother of three children. I agree with you 100 percent. I am sick of schools who treat children like that!!! Some coaches have no idea about child development. Some of them don’t even have children or know how to handle children the best way. They should go back to school and study more. Good video clip. I hope it changes many people’s thinking and help improve schools. 🙂 🙂

  3. Sallie June 16, 2008

    I agree with you 100 percent about this issue. I have seen some children have felt low self esteem or got bully who got cut from school sports. My daughter have been thru this kinda of feeling when she got cuts. I wonder if will happen to change this issue in the future, am not sure, will they

  4. Davy June 16, 2008

    The deaf schools should allow all kids have fun in no matter what the problem is cause it is only a game as make the kids have good memory for later on for pleasure to remember in back old time. It should change the rules in all deaf schools to make all kids happy no matter what. No cutting in Sports policy rules.

    Now here the question ….. how about the special challage as kids want to join the Olympic for their goal that to make the diffence….. then think about it allow that special challage who pass the record in Sports for enter in Olympic. Keep separation.


  5. Malba June 16, 2008

    Right on!

    I know the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf NEVER cuts students from sports and extra curricular activities. My friend got cut at a big school for the deaf many years ago. It still bothers her.

  6. David June 16, 2008

    There are very few Deaf schools do have Tryouts that will cut any students from making the Varsity team. If there are sufficient players to be on Junior Varsity, there will be one but if not enough then no J.V. team to be formed. Its depending on students enrollment in high school that really is affecting the Sports programs.

    Our school, we were unable to have J.V. football team because not enough players, we need to have 50+ to have two teams but we have been receiving approx 25+ kids in last three years now. They all had opportunity to be on Varsity. We manage to have two teams, J.V. and Varsity teams for basketball teams. Our cheerleading team have no cut at all, anyone want to join the cheer team is automatically on the team and the coaches evaluate the student-athlete and place them to be on J.V. or Varsity which they only need at least 7 on Varsity squad.

    When it come down to GPA issue, where do we draw the line for allowing student-athlete to be ON the team if the student-athlete have below 2.0 GPA with D/F in class? I will BET you that several Deaf schools has been permitting the student-athlete to be on sports team with bad grades for several decades. I’ve seen it alot.

    Schools for deaf are slowingly growing decline the high school enrollment in the last 10 years now which starting to limit the ability to have Junior Varsity teams. That is the problem.

  7. Jean Boutcher June 16, 2008

    I am very grateful that you are discussing this in the form of a vlog! In light of some students’s being injured psychologically (emotionally and mentally) from this cut policy, it is absolutely necessary that the cut policy be absolished. It is my belief that students at school should have an equal opportunity to experience the Greek tradition of excellence on both the academic education and the athletic education. I must also say that coaches and others assisting them should take a course on general psychology to understand students prior to working at school.

  8. Diane June 17, 2008

    Every students should be welcomed. I grew up oral myself — I often was the last person to be picked out for the team in gym class (or even eliminated me). My self esteem was plummeted. Luckily I was immediately chosen first in the volleyball team because I was good at it! I tried out twice in the girl basketball team. The Deaf student and I got let go. My dear hearing friend who doesn’t know signs was very unhappy because the team played terrible! Getting into the Sport activities is adventure – not competition!

  9. freddy June 17, 2008

    Kids have to learn to earn their battle in the real world. Cut is a good thing for kids to learn their failure and overcome their obstacle. The last 40 years, government gives too much power to students and now there are 50% drop out rate in the US. We cannot afford to give too much power on kids.

  10. ASCDEAF June 17, 2008

    Jenn – You brought up a good point about how schools and students can best balance competing demands of extracurricular activities and sports. A healthy balance and perspective related to commitments is something toward which schools and families should strive.

    Susan – We hope more schools and coaches will work to change their cutting practices. There are no child development arguments in favor of cuts.

    Sallie – Really sorry to hear about your daughter’s experience with cuts. You’re right, students do get bullied or teased when they are cut. It’s very sad AND unnecessary. This is why I added the 11th point in the vlog – about how important it is to discipline and teach the students who do bully or criticize other students who don’t make it onto the team. Students who bully or criticize others don’t deserve to be on the team in the first place. I have seen some players tell their coaches that they won’t play a particular position – something is wrong with the picture when players are threatening their coaches!

    Davy – We agree, all students in Deaf schools have a right to learn and enjoy sports. Students who want to participate in the Special Olympics have just as much a right to participate in school sports as other students who don’t face special challenges.

    Malba – Kudos to the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf for following a no-cut policy! Your friend is not alone in her hurt feelings – many, many people who experience cuts carry painful memories with them for years.

    David – Right, most Deaf schools have small enough student populations that they keep every player on their teams. This is great for small schools, but what about large schools? Just because a student attends a Deaf school with a large student population doesn’t mean that student has no right to learn how to play a sport.

    The grades issue comes up often in school sports. It’s a fine line between balancing the benefits of allowing a student to play sports with the need to focus on academics at the same time.

    It is also ironic that students with weak academic records and good athletic skills are allowed to play on sports teams, while students with weak athletic skills and 3.0 or 4.0 GPAs are not allowed to play on sports teams. From what I have heard, some schools allow players with 1.0 GPAs to play on teams (and even travel out-of-state with their teams).

    Double standard here! Students are given the message that if you have strong athletic skills, you can play sports and continue learning in the classroom. BUT if your athletic skills are not so strong, you can go learn in the classroom but you can’t continue learning on a sports team.

    Jean Boutcher – The Greeks did have a good perspective on things, smile. General psychology/child development courses should definitely be prerequisites for anyone working with children, including coaches.

    Diane – Glad you were able to play volleyball. It’s sad about the basketball team, though. Hopefully, most schools have tossed out the practice of having students pick each other for teams in gym class – that went out of style a couple of decades ago!

  11. Lynn June 17, 2008

    Thoughtful vlog as always. It always embarrasses me when I see a deaf school with a stronger team beat another deaf school with a weaker team badly refusing to let the team score some points. Coaches of the stronger team would not even consider using their second string/less experienced players. I have seen some players on the bench for the whole game. Sad sight! Coaches are often uneducated and insensitive. Coaches become coaches because they were athletes and probably never experienced being cut. They understand nothing about the basics of emotions. Their egos got in the way. They obsess on winnings not the development of good citizens. Keep up good work, ASC.

  12. ASCDEAF June 17, 2008

    Freddy – Yes, it is true that children need to prepare for the “real world”, but I am not so sure that cutting children from sports is the best way to prepare them for the future. Should we be cutting children from academic classes in order to prepare them for the “real world”? If students are struggling to learn to read, should they be cut from language arts class at age 9 or 12 and sent to janitor school instead, to prepare them for the “real world”? Why should it be acceptable to deny children the opportunity to learn sports skills, when it isn’t acceptable to deny children the opportunity to learn to read and write?

    A no-cut policy isn’t about eliminating competition or sparing children from obstacles or failure. It is about offering opportunities to learn new skills. There is plenty of competition within the team itself (i.e., competition for starting positions, for MVP, for All-Star teams, etc.). Sports are not the only places where competition occurs – academics also offer plenty of competition (i.e., competition for the honor roll, for valedictorian/salutatorian honors, for Academic Bowl positions, etc.). A no-cut policy in sports has nothing to do with sparing children from competition or failure – and it has nothing to do with building false self-esteem either.

    Can you explain what you mean about the government giving too much power to students over the past 40 years? What kind of power do you mean and how is this related to the 50% drop-out rate you cited? Could you share a reference for these statistics?

    Lynn – Thanks for your nice words. It is too bad when winning or crushing another team becomes the most important goal in sports. It’s a good guess that many coaches have never experienced being cut from a sports team before.

  13. M.G. June 17, 2008

    Here is another article to support what you discussed in your vlog. Coaches may benefit from reading this. Children has expressed that winning is not the important thing. They prefer that all players get the chance to play.



  14. ASCDEAF June 17, 2008

    M.G. – Thank you for the wonderful link.

  15. Pondering June 17, 2008

    As we all know that telling players that they are not skilled enough to learn is never a good idea in practice of education. If we save them from harm of failing, are we protecting them from the reality that they will fail in other situations?

    Yes, we need to save them from harm of failing things such as not wearing seat belt while driving. It can cost a life. However, being cut from the team is part of real world. We experience the pain of failing because we don’t want to fail. We were never taught that failing is ok and we can do it again. We were taught that failure is a bad thing.

    Let’s look at play audition as an example… if the character requires a tall woman with black hair and blue eyes. I want to get to that role but I am short. I have blonde hair and green eyes. I do not fit the description and I get cut from the audition. Are you telling me that no cut policy should happen in Hollywood or Broadway?

    Should we look at the safety of students? Is it safe to put a blind student on archery team? Is it safe to put a student who can’t swim on a swimming team?

    Some leagues have restriction for player roosters. Maybe that is the reason why some players got cut even if the coach doesn’t want to cut them. We can’t just say yeah that is right without doing some research and reason with the situation.

    Oh well… there are pros and cons on no cut policy. I hope everybody comes with a solution.

  16. sir william June 18, 2008

    i shall always regret for my being so darn passive for what i did when my son being cut off from a varsity team. i did nothing but told him to accepted it as it was the coach’s decision. imagine that! i myself came from old deaf school days. thank goodness, he was such a strong boy to go along with my stupid action? it was so obvious that he was at least better than half of the chosen ten players. why did i choose to stay silent? bless him that i did not yell as i chose his education path over the athletic prowness which he is still excel in his after life. also he is still continue his other athletic/outdoor activities even he is into his forty years. several of those players are fucked up later in their life. that coach should be so darn quilty or is he so calleous. i lost my teaching position due to my being so honest. with a clear conscience i am feeling great.

    csdf is so big comparing to many other deaf schools – yet they limited themselves to ten members of each varsity and jv teams in basketball due to the coaches’ convenience. during my time there were four teams- silent five and B team besides varsity and jv.
    eventho csdf is a big fat and rich school .. i knew it clearly as i was a teacher. luckily we got a great new fresh supervisor now. it is getting better, but with what your presentation – there is no excuse for csdf with its wealth of monies and large student enrollment for not having enough teams for most of her students. i know there are numberous students are being humilited. even with my own yearbook staff choosing, i failed. why? selfish and convenience for myself.
    csdf will get better once she finds a new, young, fresh and
    up-to-date Supt. next year. unless the state gives in and hires a sub-standard one? Just because s/he is deaf? hopefully not so as there are well qualified Deaf persons – we need to look carefully and grab her/him. not via stinky, dirty politics.

  17. Susan June 18, 2008

    Thank God for the “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail” feature. It helps me stay on top of what is being discussed here.

    I don’t understand why some people kept throwing in extreme examples like putting a non-swimmer on a swimming team. Parents would be nuts for allowing their non swimmers to try out. AND non-swimmers often don’t want to try out because of their fear of water. Once they can swim, they deserve to learn swimming techniques.

    We can have blind archers (http://www.ibsa.es/eng/deportes/archery/presentacion.htm – an organization for blind people who do sports). Blind people will not be happy to be told by coaches or people they can’t do archery because they are blind! There are plenty of blind people who can do BETTER that sighted people! Often the problem is they don’t get a CHANCE. Cutting means we don’t give people chances.

  18. Susan June 18, 2008

    Oops! The link is not clickable. Let me try again.


  19. ASCDEAF June 18, 2008

    Pondering – Just in case there is any misunderstanding, this is a clarification that this vlog does NOT take the position that competition is bad, nor does it advocate protecting children from failing. Our position is that education = learning opportunity, and neither should be denied to any children, regardless of how gifted or not gifted they may be as students or athletes.

    Sir william – Thanks for sharing your experience as a father of a child who experienced being cut from a varsity team. It can be hard for parents to speak up, but we hope more parents will stand up for their children. Like you said, some schools may limit their team roster sizes for convenience reasons, but there are plenty of ways around any convenience issues, if everyone works together to come up with creative solutions.

    Susan – Thanks for the link.

  20. Jules -oo- June 18, 2008

    Hello Sharon and Candace,

    As always, your vlogs are thought-provoking.

    Might I suggest that there is an additional option, as well. Let me exlain what I mean with a story about something that happened to me….way back “when”!!

    My freshman year in high school I tried out for the senior high school women’s volleyball team. Back then small women were used almost exclusively as setters and not as setters/blockers like they are today.

    Anyhow, I didn’t make the team. I was so dissapointed. But the head coach was nearby when I was reading the list. She saw my face fall and directed my eyes to lower on the list for the varsity team: I’d made it as Varsity Freshman Manager!!!!

    I had so much fun! I got to do everything and anything but mostly I got the opportunity to WATCH the varsity team practice and go to meets. I loved the travel…but mostly I enjoyed the incredible opportunity to soak up what the Varsity and JV teams were doing. I even got the opportunity to scrimmage w/JV and Varsity players when they needed an extra body.

    We also got an education in sports psychology because our coaches often passed out weekly reading assignments for us to read and discuss. One example of our reading requirement was the book “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.” That was a formative book in my early high school years that remains evocative today.

    Also, the head coach was big on making sure the student’s parents were active boosters of the team. We had weekly get togethers where parents met either before or just after a game to share brief comments with everyone. Mostly the comments were “Keep going!” because at the time we were neck-in-neck most of the season with one other team for the division champion award. We won and shocked our coach silly! Grins. The whole school celebrated with us and since the Freshmen attended the Middle School down the road we got to go to TWO celebrations: The one at the High School and then another one with our Middle School Classmates.

    High School was 10th, 11th and 12th grades. Middle School was 8th and 9th. The 8th graders joined a new league for Middle School 8th graders. The 9th graders were automatically part of the local Senior High School athletics and extracurricular activities. It was a huge experiment and had just begun the year before when I was an 8th grader. I was part of the first Middle School class to spend two years in Middle School. The results were incredibly favorable…both academically and athletically speaking.

    By the end of the season I was assured by the head coach that I’d most likely make at least the JV team the following year. But if I worked out and continued to polish my skills I’d be a good candidate for the varsity team! Unfortunately my family moved that summer so I never did get to play High School volleyball because my new High School believed in the cut policy and I was cut before initial tryouts. I was told by the coach that I’d be a distraction for the team. My old coach did talk with the new coach but she didn’t convince him. Oh well. His loss!

    My point? Offer other opportunities on the team for players who didn’t make the team so they can still learn skills and help and be a part of the team. I LOVED being a Freshman manager!

    Yes, I’m against the cut policy. I’ll never forget looking at the list and not seeing my name. Finding my name listed as a manager was an incredible boost!


    Jules -oo-

  21. Me Deaf School Did June 18, 2008

    Are you asking for Deaf schools to remove standards that would instill powerful confidence in its students?

  22. Jo June 20, 2008

    NO CHILD SHOULD BE REJECTED FROM ANY SPORTS!!! No matter if they are very athletic or not! Every child should be able to play sports of their choice without being judged. If a child ever experienced being rejected and they will lose motivation in playing sports because of no confidence because they would automatically thinks they are no good. This is terrible thing to do to a child! I am sick of coach who dwells on competition and win the game all of the time. Come on!!! Children are only children and they need someone to encourage and teach them to be a valuable player without being judged if they are athletic or not. Children are quite capable to learn new things if coach learn to stop to think about competition and win win win win the games all of the time. Instead, coach needs to gain patience and willingness to teach children and encourage them to able to confide in themselves and learn from their mistakes so that way they can become stronger.

    From my experience, I had this wonderful coach who never judged my and others’ skills but encouraged us to play and learn. Every game, we lost, she did not even once upset with us but showered us with praise that we’ve tried our best. I would love to have someone to clone this wonderful coach so everyone can have her and her good/loyal sportsmanship coach skills. She even sat down and talked with me when I was frustrated with my lousy skills in volleyball. She said to me, don’t ever think that you are no good. You are good and you just do not have the confidence in yourself. Now, tell me the reasons why you felt like you are not excel in volleyball? I explained my reasons to her and she smiled gently. She said, it takes practice to play good and this practice can improve fast or slow but it is all based on your motivation and interests. She was right because I was comparing myself with others’ skills and that is why I lose my confidence. This is an excellent example of what coach should be like.

    We need to tell children not to let this to diminish their confidence in themselves but stay strong and they are quite capable to do anything but be more aware that it does not works for some adults such as coach or others who have a high expectations to win or judge them as a unqualified than others. I am glad that you brought up this issue with us. Thank you very much!

  23. Linda July 4, 2008

    I agreed with you 100% about “No Cut Policy for Sports in Deaf Schools,” especially for youths in elementary through high school. I want to add that this is not the only solution but also still, some youth players are not given the opportunity to play with and against different players during a game because they are not as good as top players. That’s one of the reasons why I pulled him out of that school. Now he is now playing football, basketball and baseball at the different school. I really admire this coach for being considerate of all individuals. He has given my son the opportunity to learn, practice and improve. He is very happy and motivated in that school.

    Some school coaches, especially one school coaches I won’t mention, are very obsessed with winning — there are parents who have this attitude, too. When the middle school and varsity football players lose, they freak out, even cry! They are not good sports. I am sorry that they have bad coaches.

    Actually, the purpose of youth sports is fun. If it’s fun, they’ll practice more and improve, and success will follow. Sure, kids would rather win than lose, but among younger players winning isn’t their reason for playing!

    I like this article, http://satellitebeachsoccer.org/download/youth_sports.pdf

  24. ASCDEAF July 9, 2008

    Jules-oo- What a great coach you had back in high school. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s a wonderful option to let someone be the manager and still be part of the team.

    Me Deaf School Did – Not sure what you are trying to say here. We’re not asking that Deaf schools remove any standards. We are simply asking that they include ALL interested students in their athletic programs, on varsity and JV teams. No lowering of standards necessary.

    Jo – Thanks for your comment. It’s sad how quickly children’s confidence and motivation can be quashed when they are cut. Your coach sounds fantastic – so glad you had someone to listen and support you.

    Linda – It’s good to know that your son is now able to play different sports, but it is also really sad that he had to change schools in order to do so. This kind of thing should NOT be happening. You’re right that having fun and learning is a lot more important that winning. Thanks for the link to the article.

  25. ASCDEAF November 11, 2008

    Hi everyone,
    It may interest you to know that President-Elect Obama and his wife currently send their two children to the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, which follow a no-cut policy when it comes to sports. See this link: http://www.ucls.uchicago.edu/students/activities/sports/mspolicy.shtml

  26. Karen May 13, 2009

    There is a nice powerpoint on the same topic. All schools should follow the no-cut policy. Thank you for bringing it up.


  27. laura September 27, 2010

    my sister goes to nimitz high school and the school wont let her play valley ball because she is deaf what should i do?

  28. ASCDEAF September 28, 2010

    Sorry to hear about your sister’s situation. It is clearly discrimination if she is not allowed to play just because she is Deaf. If you have proof that that the school said this, that is a good start. Consult with the IEP team about this, or a lawyer who can advocate for your sister. Good luck!

  29. ASCDEAF September 28, 2010

    Karen – Thank you for the fantastic powerpoint! Glad to see more schools adopting inclusive policies.


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