In a surprising turn of events, the CBS telecast of this year’s Super Bowl, despite promising ASL performances, left viewers in the dark about the contributions of Deaf artists Anjel Piñero, Shaheem Sanchez, and Daniel Durant. Oscar-winning Deaf actor Marlee Matlin took to social media to express her shock and disappointment with the network for not showcasing the performances of these talented artists.
Matlin, who performed the National Anthem in ASL alongside Garth Brooks during Super Bowl XXVII in 1993, questioned CBS’s decision, saying, “I am absolutely SHOCKED at CBS for introducing the Deaf performers at today’s pregame #SuperBowl and then not showing even one second (or more) of their performance… as has been tradition for the last 30 years. WHY!?”
Piñero, Sanchez, and Durant were slated to perform “America, The Beautiful,” “Lift Every Voice,” and the National Anthem, respectively, with Sanchez also scheduled for the Halftime show alongside Usher and friends. Variety has reached out to CBS Sports for comment.
Prior to her criticism of CBS, Matlin had shared a dedicated link to a website set up by the NFL and CBS Sports for viewers to watch the ASL performances during this year’s Super Bowl pre-game and halftime shows. Despite this, the network failed to showcase the performances on the main telecast.
The absence of visible ASL during the Super Bowl broadcast has been a recurring issue. According to Axios, ASL performers have historically been on screen for a minimal percentage of the broadcasted song during the national anthem performances at the Super Bowl since 1992. The National Association of the Deaf, Love Sign, and the NFL had previously announced Durant, Piñero, and Sanchez as the ASL performers, with Alexis Kashar of Love Sign and Howard Rosenblum of NAD overseeing the production of the ASL pre-game performances and the ASL Halftime show.
As the controversy unfolds, the Super Bowl’s failure to showcase ASL performances has reignited discussions about the representation of Deaf artists on such prominent platforms, prompting calls for increased visibility and inclusion in future broadcasts.