Bound for Nationals

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Here’s a sentence I thought I’d never say: I’m going to Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky.
More specifically, I am going to Louisville, Kentucky to play in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s Division III National wheelchair basketball tournament!
Wheelchair basketball plays a significant role in my life. As a matter of fact, it saved my life. Before I began playing wheelchair basketball, I was being bullied in middle school on a quotidian basis.
I went from having depression and doubting my place in the world to having a strong self-esteem. I went from being estranged from my father to becoming one of his best and closest friends.
 Moreover, wheelchair basketball instilled within me a strong ambition to achieve my goals — both on and off the court. When I first started playing the adaptive sport, I could barely score a basket. Now, I can hit shots from almost beyond the three-point line with relative ease.
Furthermore, I was able to perform better academically in school and college. I went from being a student who didn’t care for learning, to an aspiring college professor headed to NC State for graduate school.
Additionally, the adaptive sport created a social life for me. In the nine years that I have played wheelchair basketball, I have met, played with, and played against some of the most noble men and women in the adaptive sport.
Ultimately, wheelchair basketball has improved my all aspects of my life significantly, and I am grateful for it.
Furthermore, the achievement of going to Nationals has made me realize that all the countless hours I spent lifting weights, doing push-ups, chin-ups, pull-ups, dips, medicine ball exercises, practicing with my dear teammates, and shooting hoops in the gym — whether it be by myself or with my dad, friends, or teammates — have finally, finally paid off.
I want to personally thank those who introduced me to wheelchair basketball and those who have journeyed with me during this nine-year (and still continuing) odyssey. I want to thank my wheelchair basketball team, the Triangle Thunder, and everything they have taught me about basketball and, more importantly, life. I truly love and thank them all for everything they have done and continue to do for me.
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The Importance of Demos

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Michael Atkins (left) and Miles Hill (right) playing a competitive game of one-on-one.

The main goal of this blog, as I have stated before in previous posts, is to educate people to not regard individuals with disabilities as charity cases; rather, treat them as regular individuals.

That’s why wheelchair basketball (and many other adaptive sports) exists. One of the most effective ways adaptive sports athletes attain this goal is through a little event called a “demo.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a “demo” is short for the word “demonstration.” Nonprofit organizations like Bridge II Sports (BIIS) perform demos all throughout the year. In fact, they hold annual events such as Valor Games Southeast and August Madness. Both of these events have the aforementioned goal in mind.

I have had the privilege and honor to participate in some of BIIS’ demo events over the years. I have also participated in pickup games during the halftime shows at NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill.

Having participated in these demos over the past few years, I began to take initiative and create a wheelchair basketball demo at my local college, William Peace University.

Peace hosted the demo last year and, with the help of the Disability Support Services’ Coordinator, Nicole Davis, I was able to setup a pickup game at the college’s gym with some of my teammates, classmates, student athletes, faculty and staff, and the President of William Peace, Dr. Brian Ralph.

After the game, I was able to talk with some of the people who played, and they said that they didn’t know how much effort goes into playing wheelchair basketball. They gained an appreciation for the game, and they gained a new found respect for those with disabilities.

Moreover, I talked with Ms. Davis after the game, and she said to me that they wanted to make the wheelchair basketball demo an annual event.

This touched me deeply because I knew that at this moment I had achieved the goal I worked so hard to achieve; through this demo, I had made able-bodied people at Peace realize that those with disabilities are just as human as they are.

I want to thank everyone at BIIS for instilling within me the goal to show people how individuals with disabilities should be regarded and treated as any other human being, and I want to thank everyone at Peace for giving me the opportunity to attain that goal. I am eternally grateful to both of them.

But I won’t stop here. I will endeavor to create an annual demo event when I go to graduate school at NC State.

 

Writing the Perfect Play

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A star wheelchair basketball player and a skilled essayist (Photo credit: Coach Claude Shields).

Those who know me well know that I love two things: basketball and English. I love the unique form of teamwork that basketball offers to each and every player. Regarding English, I enjoy how an individual can give his or her opinion on various literary works.

Yet, if I ever compared the two activities together, most people — even my audience who devoutly read this blog — would label me as utterly insane.

Well, call me crazy because, as implausible as it sounds, playing basketball is like writing a paper.

Now, before any of you send me to an asylum, hear me out:

When comparing basketball to writing an English essay, one must understand most of the grounds for comparison is based on symbolism. For instance, the game of basketball cannot begin without the ball. So, too, an essay cannot begin without a solid thesis. In other words, the ball is the thesis of the game. It is the center of the sport. Without it, the game has no purpose.

But the comparison does not stop there. Every basketball team has a starting five. The starting five for a typical, five-paragraph paper is an introduction, three main argumentative points, and a conclusion.

However, the best essays, like the best basketball teams, are the ones with the most support and backup. For essays, having multiple and credible sources further validates an individual’s argument.

In basketball, the team that has the deepest bench to support the starting five will, more often than not, win the game and, quite possibly the title.

For example, according to the website of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the current NBA Champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, have fourteen players on their roster. Of the fourteen athletes on the squad, at least ten or twelve of them are a vital part of the team’s success.

Now that we have covered the symbolic aspect of the two activities, we must look into both playing basketball and writing a paper from a philosophical point of view.

Both the basketball player (and team) and essay writer have one common goal: to prove that they are the best. In order to prove themselves, both have to take risks, develop various strategies, and have an extreme devotion to the craft.

Some of the best teams in basketball like to throw fancy passes and alley-oops — even if some of them result in turnovers. But, the fact that the team took the risk in throwing a creative pass illustrates how the team has skill.

When writing an essay, students are asked to take an intellectual risk. This statement means that they must deviate from what other scholars have written about a topic and advance the discussion by developing their own unique argument because that is where interesting and intelligent writing comes from.

Strategy trumps talent virtually all the time in both basketball and writing a paper. It does not matter how talented a basketball player is or how intelligent a literary critic is; if someone has a strategy on how to stop the talented basketball player or refute every argument the literary critic has, then the strategist is the better individual.

To be the best writer and basketball player, one must dedicate hours upon hours honing their skills. For instance, my shooting would not be as stellar as it is had I not, in addition with practicing with my superior teammates, practiced at my local university gym three times a week.

At the same time, my writing skills would not be as good had I not written multiple essays each semester in college and spent multiple hours with my professors on understanding the nuances of writing a literary-based argument.

The actions may be different, but that does not mean the concepts and philosophies are mutually exclusive. I am an English major and a wheelchair basketball player because I can see the two worlds living together.

Readers,

I challenge you to look at your hobbies and interests and see if they overlap. More often than not, they probably do.

Rolling Towards the Future

The goal of this blog has been, is, and continues to be about both educating the public about wheelchair basketball and removing the stigma associated with individuals who have disabilities.

Recently, I have been looking at all my posts — not out of hubris —  but to put myself in the reader’s mindset. I know that I’ve explained the rules of wheelchair basketball, but I fear that the latter part of the goal has not been achieved.

I want to make sure that the audience understands why the adaptive sport exists. I don’t want to be labeled as the guy who just talks about wheelchair basketball all the time.

People with disabilities, like myself, go to college to pursue various degrees. We have the same careers (e.g., teaching) that able-bodied individuals have. There truly is nothing we cannot do.

However, some able-bodied individuals, young and old, both at the workplace and at different levels of education, do not view people who have disabilities as equals. Or at least they do not know how to treat individuals who have disabilities with respect (i.e., they automatically push a person up a hill when the individual did not ask for help).

I was bullied in middle school because of my disability.

Because of these realities, adaptive sports exist. That is why this blog exists.

I’ve covered so much in this blog: how to dribble, pass, shoot, and defend. I’ve compared the coaching philosophies between college basketball and wheelchair basketball, and I have discussed the rules of the National Wheelchair Basketball (NWBA), such as the classification system.

All of my posts have, in their own, unique way, attempted to erase the stigma(s) associated towards people with disabilities, and the stigma(s) associated with adaptive sports.

Like I mentioned in my About page and my first blog post, some able-bodied individuals do not truly understand why wheelchair basketball exists. Rather, they tend to watch the sport and cheer by saying “Aw,” not “Wow,” which is what individuals who play adaptive sports do not want.

Wheelchair basketball players — along with every other adaptive sports athlete — want to be viewed by others just like a regular professional athlete. Even if an adaptive athlete is criticized for his or her character or level of skill, that is infinitely better to heed than some phony in the stands cheering players on like a soccer mom or, even worse, a soccer dad.

It is for all these aforementioned reasons — as well as some other reasons that I will mention momentarily —  that I say unto you, my gentle readers, that I will be taking a temporary hiatus.

I’ve enjoyed writing this blog because it has allowed me to explain the rules and concepts of wheelchair basketball (as well as my opinions on some of them — Lord knows I am very opinionated).

However, I am in the first half of my senior year at William Peace University, and I must remain focused on keeping my 4.0 GPA in order to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree in English and Communication and head off to graduate school so that I can teach British literature in the future.

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A new picture of me in class at William Peace University. Photo credit: Brice Dishman

Additionally, even though I have been playing wheelchair basketball for nine years, I have covered all the topics that I have learned in that span of time, so I cannot write about any new content pertaining to wheelchair basketball or adaptive sports at the moment.

But do not let melancholy take over your mind, heart, and soul. If I learn any new rules, strategies, or skills pertaining to wheelchair basketball, you, my loyal audience, will be the first individuals to know.

Readers,

It has been a pleasure writing this blog. But again, I have not composed my posts simply for me, but for your edification. I truly hope you all have learned not only how to play wheelchair basketball, but I also hope that you have a respect for individuals who have disabilities.

Defense

There’s an old saying in the world of sports: “Defense wins championships.” This adage is evident in all kinds of basketball. A player can score 50 points in a game, but if he or she is the only source of offense for the team, the team will not win many games.

Over my nine-year career, I’ve realized the importance of defense and tried to adopt it into my game.

Fortunately for me, I’ve had the honor of playing with and being coached by the Triangle Thunder’s Kevin Bailey. He and some of the other teammates have taught me the intricacies of defense.

Other teams, however, just yell at their players and say “Push harder! Push faster!”

These teams are the reprobates of wheelchair basketball.

In previous posts, I have mentioned the importance of defense in wheelchair basketball and how positioning is the essential key to stopping the opponent from scoring. However, there are multiple ways to have good defensive positioning on the opposing team.

Below is a YouTube video published by the channel NWBAtv:

In the shadow drill section of the video, the coach states that the defender must always “turn outside” i.e., away from the offensive player. The rest of the defensive drills in the video rely on this principle.

The reason why a defender must turn away from the offensive player is because it allows the defender to get his or her push-rim i.e., the round piece of aluminum that a player uses to push his or her wheelchair, in front of the other player’s push-rim.

If, however, the defender turns in to the offensive player, the opposing player can make a curl or turn, and, in the process, the defender would be out of the play.

As long as the defender has his or her push-rim in front of the offensive player’s push-rim, then the opposing player can’t go anywhere.

Another article written by the website of the BC Wheelchair Basketball Society (BCWBS) states that the ideal angle to for the defender to face the offensive player is at “45 degrees.”

This concept is more of a general rule for any defender. Like I mentioned in earlier posts, facing the offensive opponent with the side of one’s chair is the best way to stop him or her, because it allows the defender to get in front of the other player’s push-rim.

If, however, the defender makes the mistake of facing the offensive player with the front of his or her chair, then the offensive player can move left or right with ease, because there is no wheel or push-rim to stop him or her.

However, depending on the skills and speed of the offensive player, the defender can face the opposing player at a 90-degree angle, but only if it stops the opposing player’s freedom of movement.

Some of you, my good and faithful readers, might be asking me, “What about stealing the ball or blocking someone’s shot? Are they even allowed?”

Yes, they are. Yet, a defender must only block a shot or steal the ball at the most opportune time.

The aforementioned BCWBS article states, “Keep your hands on the wheels until a pass or a shot is taken; steal the ball when they try to pass the ball and get a hand on.” This advice is somewhat true, but there are some exceptions to stealing the ball or blocking a shot.

The only time a player should steal the ball or block a shot is when the player’s hands are quick enough to not only attempt to steal the ball or block a shot, but also have the the ability to put his or her hands back on the wheels immediately.

Another potential exception for a defender to steal the ball or block the shot would be if they stop the offensive player’s wheelchair, thus stripping the player’s freedom of movement.

Otherwise, defenders, generally, should keep their hands on their wheels, because if a defender tries to block a shot or steal the ball and misses, then the offensive player can move by the defender, because nobody can push faster with one hand.

But what if the offensive player is ready to shoot? How does the defender guard against the shooter, before and after the shot?

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Darius Kolar (left) guarding Josh Lewis (right).

Here is the exception to the general rules of guarding one’s opponent. Rather than facing Josh at 45-degree angle so that he can put his push-rim in front of him, Darius has his back to Josh.

He does this because Josh has both hands off his wheels and is ready to shoot. Josh can’t move left or right because he does not have the freedom of movement to do so, and because the back of Darius’ chair is in front of Josh’s chair.

Furthermore, because Josh is ready to shoot, and because Darius is the size of a tree, Darius has the green light to block Josh’s shot.

If Josh gets his shot off, Darius has to stop Josh’s chair movement immediately.

Overall, when it comes to defending, it requires positioning, but not the same position every time. Various situations arise in a game of wheelchair basketball where defenders will have to turn their chairs at a different angle and even raise one of their hands up to defend someone.

Readers,

I hope you understood the nuances of defense. Leave a comment or question below, if you are still confused about some concept of defending.

Super Teams

July 4th. It is America’s Independence Day. It is also the day when  Kevin Durant, an NBA superstar, used his independence and decided to take his talents to the Golden State Warriors — a team that won a record-breaking 73 games in the previous regular season.

When Kevin Durant posted his decision in an article on the Player’s Tribune website on July 4th, 2016, it spurred instant controversy, causing multiple NBA analysts such as Stephen A. Smith, who works for ESPN, to rant on Facebook live about the decision.

Stephan A. Smith regarded Durant’s decision — and continues to regard it — as “the weakest move ever done by an NBA superstar.” He even goes as far as to say that Durant has “ruined the regular season” because he made the Warriors a super team.

What does this soliloquy of information have to do with wheelchair basketball? Well, I believe it is time that I taught you about the classification system in wheelchair basketball.

The classification system is a tool that the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) uses to determine the mobility of the athletes.

The system uses a point scale, and it goes by increments of 0.5. The lowest number (i.e., the player with the least amount of mobility) on the point scale is 1.0 and the highest (i.e., the player who has the most mobility) is 4.5.

According to the NWBA website, the teams can have no more than 15 points on the court. So, for instance, if there are five players on the court, and their combined classification ranking is 15.5 or 16 points, then, it is a foul, according to the rules of the NWBA.

One of the reasons why this rule exists is because it gives everyone of varying disabilities a chance to play; however, this reason is asinine.

What matters in wheelchair basketball is not only one’s amount of basketball skills and one’s mobility, but also — and more importantly — one’s wheelchair skills.

In a previous post, I had conducted an interview with Kevin Bailey, player and coach of the Triangle Thunder wheelchair team. In the interview he said, “Chair skills are a massive part of  wheelchair basketball. Without them, no good player can be good.”

I remember when my team and I had our season opener. I was playing against this guy who was taller than me. He was also a 4.0 or 4.5. I am a 2.0. However, he was a rookie, and I had nine years of experience on him.

So, every time I got down into the post against him, I was able to use my chair skills to my advantage and get by him and score. So, just because he had more mobility than I did, does not mean that he was better me, by any means.

Coincidentally, during the same game, my teammate and coach, Kevin Bailey, who has over ten years of experience and is a 1.0, was making plays throughout the game, and one of the players from the other team, who has just as much experience as Kevin, could not even make a shot, and he was a 4.0.

Having said that, I realize that not every player who is a 4.0 or a 4.5 is a rookie. There are some players with great mobility and excellent chair skills, and they are often the best players on their respective teams.

Additionally, some teams have multiple players who are in the 3.0-4.5 range.To penalize a team for having too many players with a certain level of mobility is egregious for two reasons:

It tells the other teams who do not have those kind of players that they cannot overcome a specific challenge, which goes against the purpose of the sport. Individuals with disabilities spend their lives overcoming obstacles, and to make an obstacle less difficult is insulting to the individual.

Furthermore, if a team’s best five players are classified as 4.0 or 4.5, then they should start, because that is the concept of basketball: one team’s best starting versus the other team’s best starting five — even if one of the teams is a super team.

Imagine if the NBA made a rule that a team cannot have more than two players who average 20+ points per game. That would mean that the fans would not be able to see how Kevin Durant would play with Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson, which would be terrible for the association in terms of ratings.

Ultimately, the idea of a super team playing together might not be fair for the competition, and some fans might hate it; but it is entertaining to watch, regardless. If the team is restricted in any kind of way, then that in of itself robs the fans of exciting basketball.

Readers,

What do you think about super teams and the classification rule? Comment below.

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Josh Lewis (left), a class 1.0 using his chair skills to guard Darius Kolar (right), a class 2.0

Dribbling in Wheelchair Basketball

Awhile back, I posted a top 5 list about the essential skills of wheelchair basketball. One of those skills was dribbling.

Some of you might think, “Oh, William. I already learned about dribbling from your very informative post. I can handle the ball with the best of them.”

Trust me, you can’t.

There is a whole science devoted to this one skill, and simply stating its importance in a game does not do it justice.

For instance, when a player is dribbling a basketball in a game, he or she should always keep the ball away from the defender at all times. Also, the offensive player should dribble the ball between the wheel and the elbow.

Here are some examples:

 

In the picture on the left, the reader will see the correct way to dribble and handle the ball. In the photo, Michael Atkins is keeping the ball away from the defender.

Additionally, he keeps the ball at a 90-degree angle; the ball is bouncing straight up and down, and it is meeting his hand after each bounce.

It is not too far away from his hand where he cannot get it, nor is it too close to his wheel where the ball could hit the rim and he could lose the ball.

In the picture on the right, the reader will see the incorrect way to handle the ball. the ball handler, Darius Kolar (right), has the ball right in front of the defender, where he can steal it.

If anyone is still confused about dribbling while pushing, watch this YouTube video below on dribbling in wheelchair basketball, which was posted by the channel, Expertvillage.

 

If you want some more information on dribbling in wheelchair basketball, watch this video below, which was done by yours truly:

Readers,

I hope you learned a little bit more about the intricacies of dribbling in wheelchair basketball. Leave a comment or question below. Don’t forget to like the post!

The Coach

The coach is a reflection of the team. If he or she conducts rigorous practices and drills that instill toughness, the team will  be a rigorous, tough team.

If, however, the coach does not implement the important fundamental skills and qualities to the team, the team will be dysfunctional and mentally, emotionally, and physically weak.

The role of the coach is important in both wheelchair basketball and able-bodied basketball. The ideal coach teaches structure and discipline to the players. Both Kevin Bailey, the Triangle Thunder wheelchair basketball coach and Claude Shields, the Men’s basketball coach for the Peace Pacers, believe in this truth.

I had separate, in-person interviews with both men, and covered several topics with them. (The answers to the questions have been edited to provide clarity for the reader.) One of these topics was about their philosophies on coaching:

Q: When do you decide to bench a player?

Kevin Bailey:

“I will never take anyone out of the game for taking good shots. I take people out of the game for taking bad shots repeatedly. And then lack of effort — I’ll take someone out if they’re not giving me the effort.”

Claude Shields:

“We take players out of the game when we notice guys are tired. That’s when they start breaking down, making mental mistakes on defense and offense — and their play really starts to suffer. We’ll take you out of the game for taking a bunch of bad shots or not taking a good, open shot.”

Q: What are some of the fundamentals of basketball (and wheelchair basketball)? How often do you tell your players to focus on learning the fundamentals of basketball? Do you emphasize the importance of fundamentals to more athletic players, or do you let them play their own way? 

Kevin Bailey:

“Chair skills are a massive part of wheelchair basketball. Without them, no good player can be good. For example, shooting a layup at full speed is difficult in wheelchair basketball, because players have to learn how to control their chairs to get to the proper speed before shooting.”

“And honestly when we see players that have no chair skills — even if they can shoot — they’re just fresh bait. We just know they’re not going to hurt us.”

Claude Shields:

“We put guys through everything (footwork, defense, passing, rebounding, offense, dribbling, etc.) We have bigs (i.e., centers and power-forwards) doing guard drills and vice versa. We try to create simple mismatches e.g., a center with the quickness and footwork of a guard can out-maneuver the opposing center.”

We have some guys who are really athletic, but they have to learn [to do] the little stuff right. They can’t just rely on their athleticism.”

After covering their philosophies on coaching, I asked them some more general questions on when and how practices are conducted:

Q: How many practices do you hold during the year?

Kevin Bailey:

“We have off-season practices and regular season practices once a week throughout the year. The practices are optional, because no one’s getting paid, and it all depends on where this sport fits into their priorities. Some players have jobs and families. So, wherever this game fits in for them, that’s the level I expect them to commit.”

Claude Shields:

“We have practice six days a week (because of the NCAA requirements, we cannot practice seven days a week). We get into 90-100 practices each year. We’ll play pickup games as well.

“During the off-season, they’ll do 7:00 AM conditioning: two days they’ll run sprints. The next two days they’ll lift weights to build strength. The next two days they’ll play pickup games.”

The reason for this disparity in scheduled practice time is because wheelchair basketball, with the exception of the Paralympics and collegiate wheelchair basketball, is more of a recreational sport. Anybody can be a part of a team if they want to join.

In college basketball, however, players are held to a higher degree of expectation(s). Players are scouted by coaches, and they have to tryout in order to make the team and play at the level of college basketball.

Having said that, practice time is truly the only difference between coaching in able-bodied, college basketball and wheelchair basketball.

In terms of coaching philosophy, how practices are conducted, and what coaches emphasize to their players during practice, coaches Kevin Bailey and Claude Shields are like-minded.

Readers,

What do you think about this comparison of coaching? Is it an apt comparison? Leave a comment below. Don’t forget to like the post!

Chair Jordan

I just finished wheelchair basketball practice. I enjoyed it. As I was rebounding like a machine and dropping buckets like Bernard King, I began to realize how much my chair skills have improved.

I use to use my sportschair (which is the proper term for a basketball wheelchair) everyday during my Junior year in college, and I used it to go to the school gym every time I had a break between classes. (Ah, the memories.)

Yet, despite how much I love my sportschair — and how beneficial it has been to me over the years — sometimes I wanted to punch the darn contraption, even if I broke my hand in the process.

PRO: It’s lightweight.

Some wheelchairs weigh a ton. God help anyone has to carry any of those kinds of wheelchairs on a quotidian basis. However, the sportschair is so lightweight that some people can lift it with one hand, making it easier on the back muscles, and all upper body muscles in general.

PRO: It’s fast.

Again, the wheelchairs that weigh as much as mammoths tend to be slow like mammoths. Yet, with a sportschair, because it is lightweight, it moves so much faster than a regular wheelchair, which is great, if an individual is in a rush to go somewhere. Besides, who doesn’t like moving fast?

PRO: It’s easy to maneuver.

A lot of people think that the faster something goes, the harder it is to control. Not so with sportschairs. I have gone down many slopes and have always been able to make a sharp, quick turn or a quick stop when I needed to.

If anything, regular chairs are harder to control when going down a hill, because they do not stop immediately when an individual needs them to.

I remember using a heavy regular wheelchair one day during my time at community college; I fell out my chair three times that day going down a hill. I fell because my chair would not stop in time, and I would go off the sidewalk.

PRO: It builds upper body strength.

There are no handles in the back of a sportschair, which I love, because now I have an upper body that makes Hulk Hogan look like a puny seventh grader.

CON: It’s not for everyday use.

Like I said, I used my sportschair for school during my Junior year at William Peace University. While it helped me carry the loads of textbooks I had in my backpack, that was pretty much the only good it did me during that time period.

Going in and out of doorways was a pain, because I could not fit through them without damaging the axles or adjusting my chair at an odd angle. There would be marks on the door frames.

Additionally, no one should ever use his or her sportschair on a daily basis, because the tires, along with other parts of the chair, could get damaged, which leads me to the next and ultimate con:

CON: They’re expensive.

Anyone can buy a pair of Air Jordan shoes for a couple of hundred dollars. However, a sportschair can cost anywhere between $2,000-$3,000. In an interview I had with my teammate and Programs Coordinator at Bridge II Sports, Michael Atkins, he said, “Adaptive sports equipment is so over priced it’s not even funny.”

Some of my readers are asking the question, “Why, oh why, William are these sportschairs so expensive?” Well, as Ashley Thomas, Founder and Executive of Bridge II Sports, a nonprofit organization that specializes in adaptive sports, said, “They [the makers of the sportschairs] can’t mass-produce it.”

Think about how that situation affects Bridge II Sports and other adaptive sports organizations, from a financial perspective. They have garages filled with adaptive sports equipment, which could equal roughly $100,000+ spent on that material alone.

They have to make sure it is in good condition before every adaptive sporting event, so that they do not have to spend any extra cash on such a huge investment.

To me, sportschairs are expensive, but as long as the individual knows how to manage them correctly, they’re worth the money.

Readers,

What do you think about sportschairs? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Leave a comment below.

 

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Photo of yours truly, shooting the lights out.

 

 

Is Wheelchair Basketball a Sport?

Not too long ago, I was in Durham, NC, taking part in a PSA and an interview about how adaptive sports and the nonprofit organization Bridge II Sports have affected my life. As I was being interviewed, the cameraman asked me, “What do you think about people who say wheelchair basketball isn’t a sport?”

In a burst of passion and anger that rivaled that of Joseph Stalin, I fired back, “Those people are stupid.” However, I regained my wits, and came up with a much more eloquent answer while still having a Stalin-like tone.

I submitted to the cameraman that the game of wheelchair basketball is a sport because the competitive sport of basketball is being played. If I have to go up and down the court and play both offense and defense and adhere to the rules and regulations of the game, then I am playing a sport.

 

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Coach Kevin Bailey (right) and wheelchair basketball player, Michael Atkins (left) talking before playing a wheelchair basketball game. Source: North Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association (www.ncscia.org.) Photo URL: (ncscia.org/thunderpic.jpg)

I did a little research on this absurd idea, and I found an article written by Joe Clark, a Canadian blogger that wheelchair sports in general are struggling to keep their legitimacy. Clark argues that what challenges the legitimacy of wheelchair sports is the inclusion of able-bodied players. He writes:

“The inclusion of able-bodied athletes is a perennial topic in crip-sport circles –and that’s ironic considering how hard disabled athletes have had to work to earn respect as legit athletes. At essence, to contemplate the acceptance of able-bodied athletes in wheelchair sports is to call into question the very philosophy of wheelchair sport.”

Clark is dead-on in his statement. Adaptive sports are designed specifically for those with disabilities. The issue at hand is that some able-bodied players slip through the cracks and fake an injury or a disability in order to play adaptive sports.

Having able-bodied players competing in wheelchair basketball takes the beauty out of the game.  That is, wheelchair basketball exists so that individuals with disabilities can show able-bodied individuals how capable they really are.

This is not to say that wheelchair athletes never want able-bodied individuals to play adaptive sports. On the contrary, wheelchair athletes encourage able-bodied friends to participate in adaptive sports.

Nonprofit organizations like Bridge II Sports work all year long to promote wheelchair basketball and other adaptive sports demos at UNC, Duke, and the PNC Arena. They try to get able-bodied individuals to play adaptive sports so that those individuals can feel what it is like playing certain sports in a wheelchair.

I even planned a wheelchair basketball demo with the university’s Disability Support Services’ coordinator. The turnout was amazing; all the able-bodied individuals — which consisted of professors, students, faculty and staff, and even the president of William Peace —  had a great time, and the university wants to make the demo an annual event.

However, what wheelchair athletes are saying is that a line needs to be drawn between playing against people who are able-bodied in a fun demo game versus playing them in an actual competition during the season of the Nation Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA).

The reason why some people think wheelchair basketball is not a real sport is because of the incorporation of able-bodied individuals in the sport. And they are right. If able-bodied people play the game, it becomes regular basketball with regular players. The only difference is that they cannot dunk.

If able-bodied people want to play adaptive sports on a truly competitive level, they have to go through a violent and painful initiation process.

Readers,

Do you think wheelchair basketball is a sport? Should able-bodied people play wheelchair basketball competitively? Leave a comment, and tell me what you think.