Monday, April 24, 2006

Crippling the Competition

Last Monday, U.S. District Judge (and *cough*Clinton appointee*cough*) Andre Davis granted the request for a preliminary injunction, making it possible for a Howard County athlete to use a wheelchair when competing in track races with those who do have the use of their legs.
The Maryland Disability Law Center filed suit on behalf of Tatyana McFadden, 16, a sophomore at Atholton High School and winner of two medals at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, Greece. McFadden had been denied the chance to race alongside non-wheelchair users and to have her choice of competitive events.

The ruling could provide assurances of equal treatment for disabled students seeking to compete in athletics at schools across the state, said Lauren Young, director of litigation at the law center.

"We're thrilled, not only for her, but the school system got a loud and clear message that kids with disabilities get a chance to participate alongside the kids without disabilities in sports at their schools," Young said. "I think other schools in Maryland will hopefully look at this carefully, that they do have an obligation to include all students in athletics."

I agree that under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 persons with a disability should not be prohibited from participating in a federally funded program. But where in the track rules does it say athletes are allowed something other than Nike footwear?

"The more I hear your argument, the more transparently arbitrary and capricious it becomes," Davis told the lawyers for Howard County schools, according to the Associated Press. "She's not suing for blue ribbons, gold ribbons or money - she just wants to be out there when everyone else is out there."
Ok, I'm sorry but Judge Andre Davis is a feel-good idiot. As Dennis Prager pointed out today, liberals are filled with well-intentioned but destructive acts. They are obsessed with concepts of equality, inclusiveness, and compassion without consideration to the ramifications, and the absence of common sense.

Here's what Sydney L. Cousin, the superintendent of Howard County schools said. You tell me if it sounds "capricious":

"This lawsuit came as a surprise to me because we had been working collaboratively with Tatyana and her family," Cousin said. "I think that in Howard County, we went further than anyone else in the state, to try to encourage the participation of disabled athletes."

And Mark Blom, an attorney for the Howard County school system, said last month when the suit was filed:

that the system had worked with McFadden to allow her to be a part of the team and to incorporate wheelchair events into track competitions, but it is against merging the two types of events.

How is that "capricious"? It sounds well-reasoned out to me. And fair. They went out of their way to be accomodating, without changing, altogether, the rules of the game.

"I was really nervous at first, because I didn't know what to expect. ... But once the case got going, everything was good; the judge understood my side," she said. "This is important to me because I wanted to get the same thrill and the same experience as all the other high school students. There's no competition by myself. It was lonely and embarrassing, and I just didn't like it. Other competitors would come up to me and they would say, 'Good race,' but it wasn't really a good race because I was running by myself." know what the solution is then? You find more competitors for the Paralympics. The answer isn't crashing another sport and changing all the rules, just so YOU can participate to make YOU feel good. Sometimes in life we can't and shouldn't get what we want.

"There's no competition by myself". I found that line rather funny. Because as an athlete, it has always been my belief that the ultimate competition is with your own self. Once you begin to understand that, all the petty feelings of jealousy against other athletes dissolves. All the hurt feelings and bitter egos. I suppose this is more by-product of the self-esteem generation, where 8th place ribbons must be passed out so that there are no sore losers and hurt feelings.

McFadden should be allowed to compete for a spot on the track team; to be allowed to participate, as she so desires. But she should do so without the wheels. Ditch the wheels. If she had no legs, she should be allowed to run on her stumps; not outfitted with a mechanical device that changes the whole point of the race. The competition is about who the fastest human being is on two legs.

If we had a handstand walking contest and you have an amputee who is missing one arm, you're going to...what? Allow him to enter the contest by fast-walking on his good two legs? Or strap himself onto a skateboard and wheel himself across the finish line with his one good arm?

If you don't have the God-given attributes to participate in certain sports, you know what? Tough.

Resource articles (note the "feel good" endings):

Baltimore Sun

Associated Press

Hat tip to The Dennis Prager Show for the story, where I first heard about it.

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Blogger Gayle said...

Exellent, Wordsmith. I agree completely. Here's an example of what you are talking about:

Our church held a supposed "competition" for the children of the church as to who made the best "Easter Hat." The kids paraded in front of the judges. Some of the kids made their own hats, some obviously did not, they were store bought. However, each and every child won a prize. The child whose hat should have won wasn't given any special recognition. They were all given prizes of equal value. This is so that all the children felt like winners. I maintain that none of them felt like a winner. I'll bet they all felt cheated. At least I would have! Especially if I had the best hat there and wasn't given first prize. Liberals, they are truly nuts! They do the same thing at the "Animal Blessing" every year. They hold a "best pet contest" and each and every pet owner gets a ribbon. ARRRRGGGGGGH!

Monday, April 24, 2006 5:17:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I am undergoing some personal problems right now, in case you didn’t already know. So I have had little time to visit blogs. I barely have time to post on my own. I just want you to know I still read your blogposts if not everyday, at least every other day. Bear with me while I deal with my problems. I will soon be back blogging with passion as I have in the past.

If you visit some of the blogs I also visit, you will see this same comment.

Monday, April 24, 2006 7:04:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thanks, Mark. Hope you get through your difficulties.

So how does making a track race into "driving vs. running", promote the concept of "equality"? Essentially McFadden gets to drive around the track with 3 wheels, and the other competitors are running on 2 legs. Wow! That makes perfect sense!

Monday, April 24, 2006 9:27:00 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

As a person who has 8 deaf family members including my husband, I personally see the devastation that is done when they are "left out" because of their disability. There is loneliness in that whether you see it or not. Perhaps if you had a disabled child or close family member you might feel differently about all this.

Monday, April 24, 2006 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Is this "Marty", or Marty's wife? I'm confused.

Anyway, you have my sympathies regarding the disabilities of your family members. But no, it doesn't change my opinions in the slightest. Maybe you are too close to this, that you are confusing the issue at stake here? As for myself, I am around special needs and physically and mentally disabled kids EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Can you not see the road where this judge's ruling leads us down? I'm too "vertically challenged" to play in the NBAs. So should I get "special treatment", to make me more "equal" on the playing field? Like a magic pogo stick in each sneaker that allows me to slam dunk better than the best "all-natural" athlete on the playing field?

The entire nature of competition is built around the fact that there is inequality of ability. And the goal is to determine who is the best.

This has nothing to do with lack of compassion and sensitivity for those who go through life with unique challenges that "regular" people don't go through on a day-to-day basis.

Monday, April 24, 2006 10:49:00 PM  
Blogger The Conservative UAW Guy said...


Tuesday, April 25, 2006 5:06:00 AM  
Blogger Marty said...

"Is this "Marty", or Marty's wife? I'm confused."

I shall clear up the confusion. This is Marty. I am the wife of a deaf man and mother of a soldier. I have a deaf nephew, a deaf cousin & his deaf spouse, and 4 deaf in-laws and many deaf friends.

And Wordsmith, why do I have your sympathies? I understand the points you made, and they are well taken, but I don't understand your sympathy.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

Oh, and one other thing...perhaps your pity is causing you to underestimate the abilities of those with disabilities?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thanks for the clarifications.

Why did I say "you have my sympathy"? Because that's the impression you gave me: to feel sorry for the fact that they are deaf by giving them some extraordinary special treatment. That is what this girl, McFadden, received.

And it is because I think she should stand on her own merits, that I don't underestimate the abilities of those with disabilities. I refuse to coddle people for no good reason.

I see the capabilities and challenges of those with disabilities EVERY DAY, Marty. Here's a video I made of a high-functioning autistic kid I've known and worked with for years:

Top Fun

He's a big kid for me to be spotting. You think I'd have him trying back flips if I didn't think he had it in him?

It should be insulting to everyone that McFadden is able to drive on wheels while her competition is running on legs, unless you also allow skateboarders and rollerblades onto the track course. It is a farce.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 7:16:00 AM  
Blogger Marty said...

Great video Wordsmith. It must be very rewarding working with these kids. Kudos to you. My former pastor's son was high functioning autistic. I was his Sunday School teacher. Great kid. Could draw the most intricate pictures and recite the entire Peter Pan movie by heart.

I understand what you are saying, but we are going to have to agree to disagree agreeably.

Keep up the good work! Thanks for sharing that. I enjoyed watching it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 4:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush said " You are with us or not with us". Don't you like that statement?

Give us a chance to glorify in the skill we really dont have. We are not normal like you. It needed to be measured, it will always allow the best time to be recorded. If a wheel find a way to beat that foot race then we need to move to a different race platform for us handicapped. Life is not for the superior. That why we never give up.

Friday, July 14, 2006 10:15:00 PM  

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