Wheelchair sports have been a fundamental part of sports for the disabled, including the Paralympics, for decades now. Virtually all the major disabled sports conferences and gatherings will have a wheelchair event such as wheelchair basketball or wheelchair track and field, so it may come as something of a surprise to find out that some regions are only just now adding wheelchair sports to their scheduled events.
Following a lengthy series of discussions, the Board of Directors for the Ohio High School Athletic Association has agreed to include eight wheelchair track and field events in the 2013 OHSAA State Track and Field Tournament. Wheelchair track and field events are modeled closely on the traditional versions of these sports, and will add an exciting new dimension for observers of the tournament.
There are some unusual restrictions placed on the wheelchair athletes, however. Participants in the wheelchair track and field events will not be able to score points for their teams, specifically. This decision stems from the fact that the wheelchair versions of these sports are different enough to require their own scoring system. To compensate, the winners of the wheelchair events will have the opportunity to represent their teams at the championship state finals later in 2013.
Charlie Huebner, US Committee Chief of Paralympics praised the decision by saying,“They will be representing their schools and communities in ways that have never been seen in Ohio. The impact on the young athletes with physical disabilities participating in this championship will be incredible.”
Indeed, one of the most powerful elements of the disabled sports movement is the creation of role models. When young people affected by a life-altering disability see other disabled young people participating in athletics and team sports, they too might find the motivation to adapt and overcome, turning the situation into a chance to make friends and succeed at exciting new opportunities in the world of sports. Congratulations to Ohio for choosing to reflect this ethos in their 2013 tournament.