Several football players at the University of Oregon have been working to fulfill the language requirement needed to graduate by taking classes in sign language. Some 29 members of the school’s team are taking the school’s American Sign Language classes.

They’re interested in learning to sign, at least in part, because they’ve long made use of non-verbal forms of communication in the field. (Apparently the football huddle originated at Gallaudet University, America’s only college specifically for the Deaf and hard of hearing.)

The widespread knowledge of sign language among the football team has some awkward consequences, however. According to an article by Isolde Raftery in the New York Times:

When University of Oregon football fans cheer their team, they often hold out their hands in the shape of the letter “O,” for Oregon [see above].

If this makes some Ducks players blush, it is because…the fans are saying — screaming, really — the word vagina. Twenty-nine players on the team are enrolled in the university’s American Sign Language program. Their teacher delights in telling them the true meaning of the sign when they form a spade-shaped “O” with their hands.

It always helps to know new information, doesn’t it? [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer