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  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

Fan’s Eye View – Gary Noll – Sports Fan and Closed Captioning Advocate

Stadium Journey Special Correspondent Meg Minard talks to Gary Noll, an avid sports fan in the New Jersey / New York metropolitan area and a supporter of Stadium Journey. We interviewed Gary back in June, 2016 and learned about his efforts in advocating closed captioning at sports arenas for fans who are deaf or hard of hearing. Today, we are following up with Gary on his sports journeys and efforts.

[Stadium Journey] Gary, you’ve been busy since we last talked in 2016! Since then, what new venues have installed or agreed to install closed captioning?

[Gary Noll] When we last talked, Rutgers Athletic Center, Prudential Center, and SHI football stadium had already installed closed captioning (CC). After that, I’ve helped influence Madison Square Garden, Red Bull Arena, and US Tennis Open Stadium – Louis Armstrong Stadium (and the Grandstand Stadium – mobile captioning only) to include closed captioning. I always ask for four closed captioning boards but sometimes only get two.

MSG is awesome because they may be the only sports venue to provide CC for all sports: NCAA, NIT, NY Rangers, NY Knicks, Big East Conference, Big Ten Super Saturday events and countless other events including wrestling; it could be over 200 sports events a year.

Madison Square Garden - Big 10 Super Saturday, Photo by Gary Noll

[Stadium Journey] What do you do as part of your advocacy efforts?

[Gary Noll] My advocacy efforts include talking to, writing to stadium and arena management, guest services, fan experience department and fan clubs to get public address announcer closed captioning (CC) for my Tri-State stadium and arenas.

My goal is to have me and my fellow deaf fans have the full experience like everyone, have a high quality of public closed captioning CC on scoreboards to include plays by plays, referee details, safety information, etc. and make sure people employed in the guest service department have the ability to solve issues if there should be any technical difficulties. And if deaf fans can’t see CC on boards, he or she should be allowed to change seats or view mobile captioning.

[Stadium Journey] What else?

[Gary Noll] Having an ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter is always an excellent communication method for deaf sports fans. Those interpreters often have to be requested at least 10 days in advance of a game day. For victory parades and opening remarks (like Billie Jean King and her leadership team at the US Open Tennis) I ask for ASL interpreter AND CC on TV or big screens, and PIP (picture in picture); ideally ASL interpreter on PIP, and captioning on TV.

Louis Armstrong Stadium, Photo by Gary Noll

All sports teams and venues who have mobile captioning for men’s sports should at least have mobile captioning for WOMEN’s sports too.

The CC needs to be BIG so fans can read it easily. And, it doesn’t always have to be white text on a black board. Colors can be used too, so long as it is readable!

If an event or venue has an ASL interpreter and/or CC and there are special seats reserved for fans needing those services, share that information when purchasing a ticket or pass for the game or occasion.

I’m also promoting closed captioning for videos on my teams’ social media sites and their websites.

[Stadium Journey] Nice job! Speaking of your teams, who are your favorites?

[Gary Noll] In hockey, I love both Devils and Rangers equally, maybe a slight fan edge to the Devils because I’m a Jersey guy. But I live closer to NYC. I advocate public address announcer CC for both venues, thanks to my NJ Devils Fan Club and NY Rangers Blue Shirt Bulletin support. Knicks over Nets is a no brainer as Knicks play at MSG and I advocate CC at MSG. In baseball, huge Mets fan. That’s an easy choice over the Yankees. I like the Yankees, though, but big Mets fan. I love both Seton Hall and Rutgers basketball. Hard to pick one. Love both.

Prudential Center - New Jersey Devils Closed Captioning, Photo by Gary Noll

[Stadium Journey] What other sports do you get to in your area?

[Gary Noll]

  • MLS (Major League Soccer): Red Bull

  • NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League): Sky Blue FC

  • USSF (United States Soccer Federation): USWNT and USMNT when they play at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ

  • NCAA: Big East and Big Ten conference. Also, the annual NCAA Garden State Hardwood Classic men’s basketball game. That draws Seton Hall and Rutgers for state and NJ Turnpike bragging rights. Those games are my favorite to watch because of well event attendance, rivalry and worth your money and time. Both venues have CC through my advocacy efforts.

  • Tennis: US open tennis

  • NASCAR: Pocono, PA

Blue Sky FC, Photo by Gary Noll

[Stadium Journey] Wow, that’s certainly a diverse selection! What are some of your most recent memorable games?

[Gary Noll] Rutgers men basketball won their 18th home court record in school history by beating ranked 5 Maryland on March 3, 2020 and happy fans stormed to the home court for witnessing historical celebration moments.

Myles Powell, Seton Hall AP first team All American men basketball player scored 2000 points when Seton Hall won over St. John’s in a thriller at Madison Square Garden, NYC on January 18, 2020.

Also had a memorable Big Ten Super Saturday doubleheader at Madison Square Garden when Rutgers played Michigan in wrestling and basketball. It was very rare to see the Red Sea of Rutgers fans at MSG last February 1, 2020.

My true inspiration and memorable games are when Red Bull Arena in Harrison NJ hosts SheBelieves Cup, March 8, 2020 this year, and USWNT women soccer where every USWNT women soccer played there. It’s always sellout and that is NJ’s number one favorite sport. I love women soccer the best because they play with such highly skilled performance – no wonder why fans fill up the stadium so fast.

Red Bull Arena - SheBelieves Cup, Photo by Gary Noll

[Stadium Journey] Based on your visiting many of the sports venues in the NY/NJ area, which ones stand out the most for you as a sports fan who is deaf?

[Gary Noll]

  • Red Bull Arena, Harrison NJ – BIG captions on two scoreboards, also captions on two video screen boards and color boards

  • Prudential Center, Newark NJ – They have FOUR corner scoreboards with CAPTIONS [home of both the NJ Devils hockey team and Seton Hall men’s basketball]

  • Madison Square Garden (MSG) – They provide captioning service for ALL sporting events including NY Knicks, NY Rangers, Big East conference, Big Ten conference, NCAA, NIT, WNBA and other games. Probably 200+ sporting events a year.

  • Rutgers Athletic Center [Rutgers basketball], Rutgers SHI Football Stadium – High quality of captioning service, they include campus info, athletic and alumni and professor/student achievement announcements, celebration recognition, university information and many more with CAPTIONS.

  • Billie Jean King US National Tennis Center, Queens – NY – Provides high quality of captioning service for all US open men and women tennis matches for entire tournament.

[Gary Noll] Meg, we are all winners here. The help of guest services at the arenas, the fan and booster clubs, the venue management and the talented staff and employees who will do anything for you and find ways of communication when attending sports at these arenas is phenomenal. I’ll include VITAC (formerly Caption Colorado) and Coast 2 Coast Captioning as the best caption vendor providers as part of my efforts. It’s a great team with collaboration, communication, and corroboration efforts to make all this happen.

[Stadium Journey] What plans, if any, do you have on expanding your closed captioning solicitation outside of the New Jersey/NYC area?

[Gary Noll] My focus is on NJ and NY metro sports venues – that’s where I live close by in a few minutes’ drive, or take bus and subway to see my beloved local teams. I have already reached out to Belmont Park Arena [new home for the NHL New York Islanders] expected to open for the 2021-2022 season.

[Stadium Journey] Thanks, Gary, for our conversations and your continued effort at advocating features that will enhance deaf fans’ sports entertainment enjoyment and appreciation. May we all have sports soon throughout the world!

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