Tagged with: athletes awareness disability inclusion life Physical Activity sport wheelchair
I know not everyone is a fan of the National Basketball Association (NBA). I know there are many us who prefer wheelchair basketball and other activities. However if you did not get the opportunity to enjoy this weekend’s NBA All-Star break then you really missed a treat. You missed a unique opportunity to watch celebrities, basketball skills, celebrations and people with disabilities all having a few laughs. What, people with disabilities?
As part of their All-Star weekend, the NBA dedicates an entire weekend to contests and skill competitions prior to their All-Star game on Sunday. Prior to that game they did a celebrity All-Star game in which a Paralympian participated in this event. Blake Leeper, a Paralympic medalist in track, was one of the celebrities who participated in this activity. Now, I know what everyone is thinking, it is a celebrity basketball game? Who really cares about celebrities or basketball? I understand what you are thinking this really is not a competitive experience. It is for entertainment and laughs only. I completely agree and understand. However, not wanting to be trite but there is a bigger picture here.
As a society that is continuing its quest for inclusion for everyone, especially people with disabilities, let’s not forget that it has to be somewhere or someone that crosses that line. Now, not trying to be overly dramatic but there has to be a time when someone comes up with the idea why don’t we include a person with a disability in this event or that activity? It had to be thought of by someone to include this particular individual in this event. If we are truly wanting inclusion for all there has to be an olive branch extended to include all people in either a recreational or competitive opportunity. Why not a celebrity basketball game? Why not Blake Leeper? Also, why not limit it to only sports for people without disabilities? Why would sports for people with disabilities not include people without disabilities?
At the end of the day, it may be a small insignificant moment, but it only takes a brief moment for events, organizations, programs, cities, and nations to realize that we too need to make sure we include people with disabilities on this project. We too, need to make sure that we have a person with a disability on our board, in our planning stage and in our community event. We need the input of a person with a disability, their point of view, experiences and their voice to truly make this event or activity an inclusive opportunity.
It may be easy to laugh that it would take a celebrity basketball game at All-Star weekend in New York to raise awareness, but why not this event? Who knows what next year’s event will bring? Maybe an athlete will be invited that plays wheelchair basketball that is a wheelchair user, like Alana Nichols or Paul Schulte. How great would that be! Maybe this one small event in the biggest US city can raise the consciousness of a nation to view the importance of inclusion. Where could that lead us? It would go beyond entertainment. Now, who is laughing?
Would you object to seeing a wheelchair basketball athlete in the celebrity wheelchair basketball game?
Story on Blake Leeper: