A shadow is haunting the disabled in the sports industry.
It is that specter in our society that evokes negative emotions and perceptions about disabled people.
As a result of the stigma and negative perceptions generally associated with disability, people with disabilities are often excluded from certain educational, employment, and community spaces.
Even when people doing this feel they are working for the betterment of disabled people, they are often doing the opposite and sometimes worsening their condition.
Seeing disabled people as incapable and dependent makes a lot of decision-makers exclude them from crucial activities that could have helped them either physically, mentally, or otherwise.
A good example of this good-bad paradox can easily be seen in sport.
Many coaches, players, and fans believe that disabled people are better left on the bench due to their conditions than to be allowed to actively participate in the game.
They believe the disabled are incapable and in pain. And as such, are better left out of the games of heat, sweat, and passion.
But the heart and body want what they want.
Sports is the universal language that transcends cultures, languages, and societal barriers.
A language anyone in the world can speak and anyone can understand even though they may be disabled.
As such, disability should never be a reason why people are excluded from the sports they love.
In this article, I’ve curated the list of some of the most notable examples of how some sports lovers are discriminated against in the industry because of their disabling conditions.
Not for any other reasons but merely their audacity to hope and desire to be a part of the game like everyone else.
Some were discriminated against in the pursuit of their passion for sports. Others are lovers of the game. They came to watch and support the stars and teams that they love.
Table of Contents
- 4 Examples of Direct Disability Discrimination in Sport
4 Examples of Direct Disability Discrimination in Sport
Disability discrimination in our society is a real problem and even more so when the disabled are not allowed to participate or enjoy the sports they love like everyone else.
This is even more terrifying since we know that medically, participating in sports provides ample opportunity for the disabled to be able to exercise themselves to improve their health condition.
Discriminating disabled fans in the stadium
Sport is a thing of passion.
Even when you’re not playing on the pitch or against any opponent, you feel like you’re a part of the game because your favorite team is playing.
We always pick the side to support and cheer.
We go out to watch how the game is played, to support, and to cheer the team we love. This is true for everyone for any sport that they love.
Even though not directly participating in some of these sports, disabled fans are still being discriminated against when they go out to support the teams they love.
Buying tickets and attending a football match in a stadium might seem all perfect and normal but not for the disabled.
For instance, even though the UK has put in place guidelines on the number of seat spaces to be reserved for disabled fans in wheelchairs, only the top three flight stadiums have met this guideline.
Of the 20 premier league clubs, 17 clubs still don’t have up to half the seat spaces that should be reserved for disabled people as required by the guidelines put in place by lawmakers.
On the 17th of May 2015, disabled sports fans were prevented from entering the stadium because they were carrying their walking sticks.
According to the steward, they had not informed the club about coming in with their ‘equipment’, which could be a potential weapon.
And even when they were later allowed to get to their seats in the stadium, they still had their walking sticks seized from them while the game was going on.
Ever denied a ticket to a sport you love?
Disabled fans continue to face the issue of discrimination in every facet of life. Sport is not excluded.
They often find it hard to get their hands on tickets to their favorite events due to the lack of seating space arrangements for them.
For instance, before the enactment of the Disability Discrimination Act, according to journalist Amy Wilson, there were only 15 reserved spaces for disabled fans both for those in the country and those coming into the country.
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Pushed out of the team
Disability discrimination in sport is perhaps the least talked about form of discrimination in society today.
This is probably due to the nature of what most people perceive of disabled people. Disability evokes negative emotions and sometimes pity in people.
So, they assume that the disabled want to be left alone and no longer have aspirations or ambitions.
This is far from the truth as many disabled people still want to participate in the sports they love.
There are the Paralympic games for them.
But those whose disabilities don’t prevent them from physically participating in other sports should not be kicked out of the team for no other reason other than them having a disabling condition.
Former Newcastle star, Jonas Gutierrez, won a disability suit against his club after successfully proving that the club discriminated against him and kicked him out of the team because of his disabling condition.
Jonas Gutierrez was on a loan stint with the club and had just a year with the managers making plans towards retaining him in the team.
After his diagnosis of testicular cancer came in positive, Jonas Gutierrez found himself frozen out of the team.
He pressed charges against the club under the disability act.
From the 64-page findings of the tribunal panel, it was concluded that the club no longer wanted Jonas Gutierrez on the team because of cancer and not because they believe that he’s no longer part of the club’s plans.
Can’t hear a thing
Sitting in a stadium and cheering up your favorite team is one of the most incredible feelings ever.
Everyone else seems to be shouting and jumping up with excitement and listening to the commentary bursting out of the loudspeakers.
These are exciting times in sports for fans.
But not for Tom Rhodes, a deaf football fan from Carlisle. Tom gets frustrated that he gets lost in the stadium atmosphere.
He can’t hear or feel anything when everyone else around seems to be following the commentary he knows is coming out of those big speakers hanging above the roof.
“There are problems when it comes to going to stadiums to watch matches.
“I find it so difficult to understand what’s said through the speakers with a noisy background of fans. I wish there were subtitles with what’s being said.”
This he said is among the core reasons why more than half of disabled fans never returned to the stadium again after a few live games.