"Wheelchair Athlete Wins Right to Race Alongside Runners," Where does one draw the line

It seems to me that the different sports internalize the cost and benefits of setting up their rules. One objection is that racing a wheelchair is not the same as running a race (though the judge says that this woman's times will be (for now) counted separately. My understanding is that wheelchair athletes have an advantage. In the tight turns, what impact would a wheelchair have on the other competitors? Would it change the nature of the race? But where is the natural drawing line when the courts get involved. Recently there was the case where a golf player was allowed to use a golf cart in professional competition. What if the person was a quadriplegic? What special benefits would they be allowed?

A celebrated high school athlete who uses a wheelchair will be allowed to compete in a high school track meet against her able-bodied peers who will race on foot, under a ruling issued yesterday by a federal judge.

Tatyana McFadden, 16, a sophomore at Atholton High School in Columbia, will be allowed on the track at the same time as the other competitors but will be scored separately under a preliminary injunction granted yesterday in Baltimore by U.S. District Court Judge Andre M. Davis. . . .

Her attorney, Lauren Young of the Maryland Disability Law Center, said she believes the ruling will pave the way for other disabled athletes.

"We're thrilled. We hope that other kids with disabilities see they have access to full participation in athletic programs in schools." . . .


Blogger Bike Bubba said...

I looked up some wheelchair racing times, and they're typically 20-30% faster than running times, as one would expect--rolling is a huge advantage. Shame on the judge for forcing the school to mix the sports. (it might be fair on a cinder track, but...)

It should also be noted that a wheelchair athlete is a far bigger obstacle than a person in terms of width & rigidity (of the wheelchair) while being far less visible. Wheelchair athletes are safe in road races, but not on the track with the able-bodied.

4/25/2006 4:02 PM  

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