They excel at what we can’t do. The Authors Collection.
August 25, 2014
I JUST HAPPENED on a story about the 68th Annual U.S. Blind Golf Association’s National Championship. It was a 36 hold competition held on August 16-20 in Exeter, Rhode Island. Twenty-seven men and women competed for the championship. Each golfer has a sighted coach who lines them up before each shot, guides the club to the ball, and reviews the shot with the golfer. But the blind golfer must hit the shot.
If you’ve ever played gold, you know how difficult it is to get the ball on the green, much less in the hole. Imagine trying to do it blindfolded.
Wheelchair basketball, while not common, can be found many places. The National Wheelchair Basketball Association held its national tournament in April. In addition, there are dozens of tournaments across the U.S. each year. The NWBA lists over one hundred and ninety teams, including both men’s and women’s teams. There is an International Wheelchair Basketball Federation and it is recognized by the International Paralympic Committee.
Paracycling has both World Championships and the Olympics. Handicapped athletics compete in swimming, with a Team USA athletic smashing a 13-year-old world record during the recent Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships.
I could go on and on with the different events for the physically handicapped. There are at least 36 different choices for these athletics to compete in, and many more in which they can participate.
Amputees and double amputees may well walk again. But today, they may also enter races and not just races against other amputees. Even kids who have suffered amputation may be out running on the tracks.
Not long ago, the opportunities were much fewer. Why are there so many sports available now?
To begin with, today’s medical facilities and treatments are far superior. Prostheses are a far cry from what was available in the past. And the medical establishment is committed to work with the handicapped and try to prevent their problems from dominating their lives.
A big part of today’s change is attitude. No longer need a person be reluctant to let the physical handicap be exposed in public. Family, friends and the public encourage participation and competition.
And perhaps most of all, ample role-models exist. High profile people who have suffered an accident that left them less able in some respect have made it clear there are many things in which they can excel. They are the same persons they were before. They simply have to work differently. They are still a force to be dealt with; they can still be number one.
What an amazing and heart-warming change. Some things do simple get better.
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