In our country today, there is constant controversy over questions like “Are we doing enough to include everybody justly?” or “Should we be treating everyone the same?” and “How can we treat all different types of people equally?” These questions can relate to many facets of life, such as an individual’s sexual orientation or race. There is one issue that is or could be relevant in many of our lives that we ignore, and we should be addressing this problem using these questions. The problem at hand is the lack of proper inclusion of disabled people into everyday society as our equals and our peers. There is a discernable absence of attention and support that is placed on disabled athletes, and their respective sporting abilities.
Media outlets and persons of power need to understand this segregation of disabled people and non-disabled people, and address this looming problem head on. Every person should be physically active throughout their life, and unfortunately for a disabled person, there is likely little local opportunity to compete and play in sporting games and events. Our society as a whole needs to first recognize the problem, and then implement tactics to include all people of all abilities. There are existing and potential plans to implement equality without full separation, while still remaining true to the rules and regulations to the traditional games, and without giving unfair advantages to any player. I claim that there should be more of an emphasis and an effort to create equal opportunities for disabled people to compete in athletic sporting events, because it allows disabled athletes and patrons alike to be included in ‘normal’ situations in which society’s stereotypical judgments of disabilities do not hold ground; where the disabled athlete can participate in an activity which improves their personal self-esteem and self-worth and improves societal outlook on disability in general. Being disabled and growing up in an ‘able-bodied’ world seems to me as if it would be an insurmountable feat, with constant judgment, segregation, and lack of attention from most non-disabled people. A quote I found reveals the psychological findings of disabled people’s inner feelings about themselves at a young age. All of these examples can be related back to physical activity in one way or another, and can be improved by more physical opportunities. “Some issues that have emerged during psychotherapy sessions… are: anger at themselves… or at the judgmental and unaccommodating world around them… depression stemming from attempts to achieve alongside able-bodied people… independence vs. dependence and their reliance on others to perform tasks for them…” (M. Anderson, Gaskin, Morris) We can see that disabled people have openly admitted to the strife they face regularly, and we as a society are still not doing enough to help improve the self-esteem and self-appreciation of these disabled athletes in their lives. Because of literal handicaps and physical impairment, disabled people simply cannot all have the same access and opportunity to play every sport equally. It would force these leagues and teams to alter the existing rules, regulations, and traditions of sporting events to include everybody, which in essence defeats the purpose of the movement towards physical equality. On the other hand, a ‘separate but equal’ policy is not beneficial to the cause of equal inclusion, because there is still a distinguishable separation between abilities and participants. These teams/events do not necessarily need to integrate with disabled leagues or accept every applicant/try-out, but options need to be explored so, at the very least, we can allow everybody to attempt a sport without an unfair disadvantage. The restrictions as to whom can play on an “integrated” team or a disability specific team do not need to be so black and white; I think each individual and his/her abilities needs to be