On the subject of "open" wheelchair competitions in racing and basketball
----- Original Message -----
From: "Han Tacoma" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, October 16, 2000 8:27 PM
Subject: Re: Paralympics - open or restricted?
> > As to the question Simon raised, Chantal Benoit (Canada's star
> > wheelchair basketball player) recently called for wheelchair
> > basketball to be included as a full Olympic sport. She said she
> > did not regard wheelchair basketball as a wheelchair version of
> > the more common game, but as a completely different sport altogether.
> Basketball or Rugby just ruins my wheelchair. Ultimately it is a
> different sport altogether, one cannot expect to compete with an
> A/B team. I think we should keep this in mind as "Reality."
Wheelchair racing is run in class categories, with T4 the least injured and
T1 the most injured. I believe that in the U.S. and Paralympic rules a racer
must have a "permanent disability of the lower limbs" for these categories.
But it seems to me that a non-disabled person would have no unfair advantage
over a disabled T4 athlete. After all, a missing foot is enough to qualify
as T4, and not much is done with a foot in racing a wheelchair. Canadians
including especially Jeff Adams (4th place in Sydney, I believe) have
advocated removing the requirement for disability and allowing non-disabled
people to race in the Open (now T4) category. If that would make it an
Olympic sport, I'm all for it. In fact, I can't see much against it as it
is. It's damned difficult to push a racing chair fast, and it's an
achievement whatever your status. The world's best racer, Heinz Frei, is
actually a T3: his injury is high enough that he cannot raise his trunk up
and down as he strokes. That's certainly a disadvantage, but he's still the
fastest in the world.
W/c basketball is run on a ranking systems, even in Canada where
non-disabled players are allowed in leagues. Non-disabled players are ranked
at the highest ranking for disabled players. I think it is 3.5. Since your
feet have to be strapped in, and any use of your lower body to give physical
advantage is called as a foul, there is very little advantage of a
non-disabled player over, say, a BK amputee or a low para. If these players
were allowed, the people who would be most cut out of games would be the
highest rank of disabled players, not the lower ranked players. I believe
that the rule states that there cannot be more than 12 total points on the
floor at a time, so if you have one 3.5 player you can only have 8.5 points
for the other four players. This guarantees that the least-disabled players
cannot totally take over the game, and the same thing goes for non-disabled
players. Good players who have low number ranking (i.e. they are more
seriously disabled) are of great value to a team.
Now, I supposed that the Olympic silverbacks could argue that the 12 point
rule makes basketball exclusionary even if non-disabled players were allowed
in at 3.5 rankings, because more disabled players are thereby guaranteed
places on the team (unless three 3.5 players from the NBA wanted to play as
a full team against 5 disabled players).
> > To counter the restricted argument the IOC threw out, she said
> > about 55% - 60% of wheelchair basketball players in Canada are
> > able-bodied.
> I cannot attest to this and if it is true it can only be (IMO)
> to the volunterism(sp?) of those involved in the "sham"!
Your opinion is wrong, and you've got no reason to call it a sham. It's a
game. No one is being tricked. Probably most local pickup games of w/c
basketball involve at least half non-disabled players. They're often friends
or spouses of disabled players, but sometimes it's just people having fun. I
play once a week. We have neighborhood kids that come to watch our games,
and they jump in the extra chairs whenever we take a break and push
themselves around the gym. When we don't have enough players, we don't have
any trouble getting some guy from the next court over take one of our extra
chairs and play with us. They see how much fun it is, and how competitive it
is, and they're mostly eager to try it out. These guys sometimes come back
with their friends to see if we have enough extra chairs for all of them.
University of Hawaii at Hilo
Hilo, HI 96720
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