A Discussion of Wheel Chair Participation in Foot Races
In Manty’s “Being a Woman and Other Dissabilities” Manty spends quite a bit of time discussing whether or not disabled individuals should be allowed to compete in foot races. Specifically, he mentions the New York Marathon trying to ban persons in wheelchairs from participating or making them wait until runners have started. As Manty discusses some feel the people in wheelchairs are faster than runners, or even pose a threat to runners because they take up more space on the road.
Personally, I agree that footrace and a wheelchair race would be separate events. In September, my Fraternity (Pi Kappa Phi) help a 5K wheel chair race to raise awareness for our national philanthropy organization PUSH America. The goal of our event was to not only show ourselves, but those around campus the difficulties of life in a wheelchair race. As someone who is very athletic (a hockey and lacrosse player) I greatly underestimated the sheer physical difficulty of this event. It took me, and the other 40 brothers in the fraternity, about an hour to go a little more than three miles. This was one of the single most difficult physical events I have ever participated in before. My arms and shoulders were swelled more than any other sports game or work out session I have ever participated in before.
Thus, I feel that a wheelchair racers should be excluded from footraces because the two events require completely different skills and abilities. A footrace requires a great deal of physical endurance including leg strength, while a wheelchair race requires an unbelievable amount of arm, shoulder and back strength. After competing in the race I am honestly shocked that wheelchair sports do not get the repect they deserve because they require a kind of strength and power that no other sport requires. These athletes who compete in wheelchair races, especially a wheelchair marathon, are absurdly talented athletes and deserve far more respect than they get from the mainstream sports world. It is unfair to judge these individuals who compete in wheelchair marathons as anything less than world class athletes. But at the same time, wheelchair sports are so different and require such a different skill set that does not make any sense to have athletes in wheelchairs compete against foot-racers because they are not competing in the same sport at all.