Excellence in Sports
This blog post is in response/extension to a past blog post “SPORTS!”. Please read this blog page before going on:
In Professor Mika Lavaque-Manty’s book, The Playing Fields of Eton, he provides an interpretation of how women and handicapped sport athletes, while encouraged on the basis of having the same right to participate, are still seen as inferior in relation to men of the sport. But why is this attitude reflective of our society? Yes, it has been shown that women and handicapped athletes are unable to reach levels of athleticism that men can compete on, but does that justify that these athlete’s be looked at as subordinate to their male counterparts?
“I sympathize with the handicapped, but racing isn’t something they should try to do.”
– A quote take from an unidentified participant in the NYCM taken from The Fields of Eton
Society constantly places barriers around people deemed with disabilities. I credit both the female and the handicapped population for breaking down with a majority of these barriers, but I feel that they shouldn’t be responsible for trying to attain a level of equality that they should already have. As mentioned in the “SPORTS!” blog, all people have different sets of limits, and that the mentality required to play in the sport is not addressed. To this I completely agree, and have some additions. People in the sports realm, or any realm in that matter, should not be discriminated against because of their disabilities, but rather should be looked up because of their capabilities. What many view as “Excellence” in sports should not be based off of physical limitations, it should be based of their mental toughness and emotional dedication to their respective sport. It is disrespectful to the sport, spectators, and participants, to place excellence only to those that show “athletic dominance” . Excellence should be placed to those who have a passion and the drive to compete, regardless of skill level.
As though many people, after reading this article, may sympathize with athletes who don’t receive the credit they deserve, their atitudues about “excellence in sports” will most likely not change. For those people, I want you to reflect on your own personal experiences. In all honesty, what has been the most inspirational sports competition you have experienced (either as a spectator or participant)?
For me, the most meaningful games are not those of the NBA – being witness to some amazing physical prowess in the sport. The most meaningful games that I have experienced have been watching my brother play on his Special Olympics Basketball team. My brother and his team truly emulate excellence. While watching them, I witness a passion for competition, a love of the sport, and a mutual respect for everyone. While watching him play, I feel a sense of excitement that is greater than any slam dunk or block by Lebron James can create. I see a level of competition not degraded by their disabilities. Excellence in the sport should not be based upon physical abilities, but instead, the emotional intensity and mental toughness displayed by its athletes.
Finally, I ask you to watch these two clips. The first, of an autistic senior manager for his high school’s varsity basketball team whom receives playing time for the first time of his tenure, during their “Senior Night” game of the season. The second, Game 7 of the 2010 NBA finals between the Celtics and the Lakers, a rivalry dating back to the beginnings of the NBA.
The chance to play passionately in the sport should delegate excellence in the sport, not disabilities. The excitement of the arena during “J-Mac’s” performance is equal to, if not greater than that of the NBA Final’s Game 7. No one should discredit people based on their disabilities in a sport, because as we have seen, there are no limitations when it comes to passion. J-Mac’s dedication to the support shows true excellence. As quoted by “J-Mac” on his performance:
“It’s not really a big deal at all, I’m just normal like other people. It’s the way I am.”