Married to the Chair – wheelchair sports

Sep 18, 2013
Tagged with: Married to the Chair - wheelchair sports

So by now you have probably seen the commercial by Guinness Beer about wheelchair basketball. (If not here it is: ) It blew up my Facebook page and my email in-box after it came out with comments both for and against. Some praised the ad for showing disabled athletes and some weren’t so gracious and noted the poor imaging or the fact that only one individual was actually disabled. Personally, I couldn’t have been more pleased! wheel8For once the able- bodied world wasn’t expecting the wheelchair athlete to adapt to them but instead they played on his court with his sport. It’s like the friend who wants to play but it always has to be at his house or by his rules and not yours. Eventually that gets old. There are few times in the wheelchair world where this happens. Few friends are willing to say yeah I’ll come play your sport on your court instead of making you come play at mine. And, yes, some of the guys are wearing gloves which, in the wheelchair world, would be made fun of- but I think that drives the point home even further- these guys aren’t wheelchair users. They don’t push a chair every day so yeah, their hands are going to get torn up but they are doing it so that they can play with their friend not because they are amazing wheelchair athletes. And this perception goes along perfectly with their slogan stated at the end of the commercial “the choices we make reveal the true character of our nature.” These friends had a choice – they could have made their buddy play on their wheel3court or they could choose as they did to play on his and that does show character.

I have seen this same thing play out in my husband’s life. Normally, we want him to join us. I want him to go on a bike ride with me, go play putt putt or play Frisbee golf with us ( that one didn’t work out so well) or even playing basketball – we play standing while he sits. But a couple times a year we hop in some ball chairs and play wheelchair football with him. We get the blisters on the hands and the sore shoulders because we aren’t used to pushing and worst of all we get “schooled” in the sport of wheelchair football because, regardless of athletic ability, we can’t compare when it comes to chair skills. They just do it more than we do… their wheel4chair becomes an extension of their body and they move gracefully down the court. That’s not the way it works for us non-chair users. We struggle to keep possession of the ball while we push down the court, we miss having the use of our legs when it comes to anything that requires a little more strength, and we get frustrated when one little move of their chair pins us in rendering us unable to move. – Let me take a little time out here to say – welcome to their world! Struggling to hold a drink and push their chair at the same time, wishing they could use their legs and constantly being stuck places because of the inaccessibility of life is just another average day for them.

We have a blast playing wheelchair football – it’s a great time of fun with our friends and family and typically a humbling experience for those who are used to being good at sports. So if you ask me if I like the new commercial the answer would be a resounding YES! Because it doesn’t always have to be about us (the able body that is) and when we realize that – first we might have some fun and second you might gain a little respect. So to all my husband’s friends that have come out and played wheelchair football with him – you were cool long before Guinness ever made you cool so thanks for making the better choice!wheel5

Author: Kelly Bonner

  • Sarah Blackmon

    Yeah, schooled is the right word to use when we played football on their court. Dear goodness it was hard but so fun.