Tuesday, May 20, 2008
LEGLESS SPRINTER GIVES HOPE TO MANY OTHERS
Blind Man Sues NASCAR, Man With One Arm & One Leg Challenges NBA
(May 20, NY, NY) Initially denied the right to compete in the Olympic trials, the South African legless sprinter known as “The Blade Runner” won a landmark victory last week when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) January 2008 ruling. Oscar Pistorius, a double below the knee amputee, still needs to improve his time in his track event to qualify for the Olympics. His nickname comes by way of the carbon-alloy “blades” that substitute for his lower legs. Despite issues of competitive advantages, disadvantages and a host of thorny issues, the CAS may have opened a door that will not soon, nor easily, be closed.
Putting aside the particulars of The Blade Runner’s case for a moment, the potential that athletes clearly unable to participate in certain competitive arenas will nonetheless seek permission to do so through various Committees, Boards and Courts. There exists some legal precedent in United States Courts, most of which dealt with high school or college athletes seeking to compete in unconventional or historically gender specific sports. Several high school girls have played on the boys football team at their high schools while several boys in high school have been granted the right to twirl batons and play field hockey; both traditionally female activities.
The Pistorius case is vastly different than those where gender was the central argument. If this ruling stands, many athletic insiders, supporters and professional sports organizations have expressed grave concerns. “All this political correctness and inclusion crap has the potential to ruin competitive sports at every level. Most sports require a minimum of basic physical skills that, candidly, not everyone who wishes to compete possesses”, said Sanford “Sonny” Newman, the Director of Player Development for the National Football League. Newman continued, “When I was with the Philadelphia Eagles in the 90’s, we had a one legged man try out to be our punter and placekicker. Personally, we did not think it was a good idea or that he could even make the squad. He sued us for discrimination. Can you believe it? A guy with one leg wanted to be a punter in the NFL. Well, the District Court said we had to give him a try out, so we did. I believe he is still in a coma and may have lost his remaining leg”.
Over the years many professional sports have had to contend with “disabled” athletes compelled to compete at the highest level. “There already exist a number of venues dedicated to providing athletes with various disabilities, handicaps, or disadvantages the opportunity to compete on a high level. From the Special Olympics to the plethora of sanctioned sports like wheelchair basketball, there is a niche for every athlete to compete”, commented former Dallas Cowboy receiver, Michael Ervin, Chairman of the National Crack Addict Horse Shoe Competition.
Virtually all professional sports executives and upper management claim that only the cream of the crop, the best of the best, possess the degree of talent, skill and physical prowess to compete as a professional. Several of them, speaking anonymously noted that “it is not hard to get severely injured in pro sports. Do you really want a guy with no arms as a catcher for a Major League team? Do we really want to see a man without hips or a bladder in an Iron Man Triathlon”?
Ferlin “Fuzzy” Bliftcroft, the Associate President of NASCAR For Driver Safety said, “Ya know, right now we gots this fella suein’ us. Ya see, ah…he can’t see, he’s blind…blind as a bat. Blind as that piano player, Stevie Somethingorother. But, he wants to drive a race car. Well, hail, I say God Bless and all that sorta thing but what in the hail is this world comin’ to? I say just turn him loose in the Bumper Cars at some county fair and call it a day.”
Obviously, this will be a debate that will not go away any time soon. Courts and Sporting Commissions are preparing for an onslaught of law suits and legal actions. Kleavon “Special K” Thorndike, a basketball player missing an arm and leg on his left side is currently in the process of bringing the NBA to court. “Heck yes, I can play. They know how good I am, that’s why they keeping me out of the league. Ok, so I fall down a lot but still, I got an outside shot that is dangerous.”
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