Massive new mandate for schools to provide disabled sports

by Walter Olson on February 8, 2013

Don’t you wish we’d heard more about this before the election, and not just afterward?

Breaking new ground, the U.S. Education Department is telling schools they must include students with disabilities in sports programs or provide equal alternative options. The directive, reminiscent of the Title IX expansion of athletic opportunities for women, could bring sweeping changes to school budgets and locker rooms for years to come.

Schools would be required to make “reasonable modifications” for students with disabilities or create parallel athletic programs that have comparable standing as mainstream programs.

[AP/Yahoo, New York Times, Michael Petrilli/NR ("The Obama Administration Invents a Right to Wheelchair Basketball")]

{ 10 comments }

1 Small Government Guy 02.08.13 at 10:43 am

Worst administration in history in my life…from Nixon to the present. From the practical to the constitutional, this idea is horrible.

2 Cloudesley Shovell 02.08.13 at 1:30 pm

Look for more and more schools to move athletics into clubs that are organized independently from the school, with separate funding in an effort to get out from under these mandates.

3 wfjag 02.08.13 at 2:47 pm

@CS:
Disagree. I expect that schools will eliminate sports programs (there already being budget pressures in that direction). Then parents with the means will enroll their children in private clubs (which will also accept some highly gifted athletes for free – for “diversity”), while the children of the middle and lower classes, and nearly all special needs children, will have few, if any, opportunities.

4 marco73 02.08.13 at 4:19 pm

@wfjag – I agree with you.
We are already seeing the private-club effect with sneaker-affiliated basketball, baseball, and 7×7 football teams. High school used to be the only place for teens to show their skills for potential college and pro recuiters. Not anymore. There’s plenty of skilled athletes who will never step on the court or the field for their high school.
I wouldn’t be surprised if high school football is reduced to 7×7 flag football in the near future.

5 ras 02.08.13 at 5:31 pm

Next q: will the definition of “disability” be as broad as elsewhere: e.g. separate-but-equal drinking fountains and sports programs for those with ADD, physical contact phobia, or gender aversion syndrome?

6 gasman 02.08.13 at 6:03 pm

“Should a starting light be used rather than a starting gun for a deaf athlete? Should a swimmer with one arm be allowed to touch the wall with his head instead of his hand? Should a track athlete in a wheelchair be allowed to use arm strength rather than leg muscles to propel toward the finish line?” No, No, No. Or more specifically, reaction time differs for visual versus auditory stimuli, a swimmer with one arm still has an arm to touch the wall just like everyone else, and a person on wheels is not running in a footrace.

For the deaf teen playing tennis, an interpreter is an appropriate accommodation, as it does not advantage her nor does it change the game as it is played by everyone else.

The application of Reasonable accommodations seems to be lacking anyone who can settle for reasonable, as opposed to demanding that they get every little bit of change for themselves.

7 John Cunningham 02.08.13 at 10:51 pm

This is nonsense on stilts. so the Commie regime will force the basketball team to play a guy in a wheelchair? it could only be on the existing team. how many schools have enough kids in wheelchairs to fill a team?

8 rxc 02.09.13 at 7:16 am

Considering how the latest change to the ADA law has expanded the definition of “disabled”, maybe the schools could play a bean counting game and include everyone who has allergies, or wears glasses, or has any sort of impairment like that in the category of “participates in sport”, and make this all go away. Maybe all the football players could be declared to be disabled, because of their head injuries.

9 John Fembup 02.09.13 at 8:02 am

I think this mainly illustrates, again, that the Dept of Education doesn’t have anything constructive to do. They’re just not busy over there.

Eliminate it. Don’t scale it down – close it down.

10 peter 02.09.13 at 7:30 pm

Ah. “Reasonable”. The word which will mean totally different things depending if you are the disabled person, the lawyer or the bill payer.

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