In dispute over deaf football player, Lions step up

The takeaway from today’s Star Tribune story on a messy lawsuit between a youth sports league and the parents of a deaf player: The local Lions Club is the unsung hero of nearly every community around here.

Gloria and David Nathanson’s lawsuit against the Spring Lake Park Panther Youth Football Association has been settled now. It’ll establish a disability access fund, provide some money toward college toward their son, Dov, and pay some attorney fees.

The Nathansons and their son have left the area and moved to White Bear Lake where their deaf son is able to get what they couldn’t get in Spring Lake Park: sign-language interpreters and someone beating a drum to correspond with the cadence of a quarterback’s calls.

The local Lions Club was doing its part. It was paying for some interpreters in Spring Lake Park. And the Nathansons were spending some of their own money to help their son be able to play after the Fridley school district pulled funding. The Nathansons argued that the Americans with Disabilities Act required the accommodations.

“The league did ask the parents to please help. Everyone is a volunteer in this organization,” a league spokesman told the paper. “Paying for an expense like that — it would have truly bankrupted them that first year. They were grateful to get the funding from the Lions Club.”

The Nathansons sued because youth sports leagues feed players into school teams and without the accommodation, their son would be denied the opportunity to play for one.

Since moving to White Bear Lake they report things have gone smoothly. Another Lions Club stepped up to help. It donated $3,000 to help pay for interpreters. And Dov’s dad, David, served as an assistant coach, something he says he was denied in Spring Lake Park. Interpreters and a drum help both father and son follow the game.

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