Posted by Wordsmith on 24 April, 2006 at 12:10 pm. 2 comments already!


Last Monday, U.S. District Judge (and *cough*Clinton appointee*cough*) Andre Davis granted the request for a preliminary injunction, making it possible for a Howard County athlete to use a wheelchair when competing in track races with those who do have the use of their legs.

The Maryland Disability Law Center filed suit on behalf of Tatyana McFadden, 16, a sophomore at Atholton High School and winner of two medals at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, Greece. McFadden had been denied the chance to race alongside non-wheelchair users and to have her choice of competitive events. The ruling could provide assurances of equal treatment for disabled students seeking to compete in athletics at schools across the state, said Lauren Young, director of litigation at the law center. “We’re thrilled, not only for her, but the school system got a loud and clear message that kids with disabilities get a chance to participate alongside the kids without disabilities in sports at their schools,” Young said. “I think other schools in Maryland will hopefully look at this carefully, that they do have an obligation to include all students in athletics.”

I agree that under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 persons with a disability should not be prohibited from participating in a federally funded program. But where in the track rules does it say athletes are allowed something other than Nike footwear?

“The more I hear your argument, the more transparently arbitrary and capricious it becomes,” Davis told the lawyers for Howard County schools, according to the Associated Press. “She’s not suing for blue ribbons, gold ribbons or money – she just wants to be out there when everyone else is out there.”

Ok, I’m sorry but Judge Andre Davis is a feel-good idiot. As Dennis Prager pointed out today, liberals are filled with well-intentioned but destructive acts. They are obsessed with concepts of equality, inclusiveness, and compassion without consideration to the ramifications, and the absence of common sense. Here’s what Sydney L. Cousin, the superintendent of Howard County schools said. You tell me if it sounds “capricious”:

“This lawsuit came as a surprise to me because we had been working collaboratively with Tatyana and her family,” Cousin said. “I think that in Howard County, we went further than anyone else in the state, to try to encourage the participation of disabled athletes.”

And Mark Blom, an attorney for the Howard County school system, said last month when the suit was filed:

that the system had worked with McFadden to allow her to be a part of the team and to incorporate wheelchair events into track competitions, but it is against merging the two types of events.

How is that “capricious”? It sounds well-reasoned out to me. And fair. They went out of their way to be accomodating, without changing, altogether, the rules of the game.

“I was really nervous at first, because I didn’t know what to expect. … But once the case got going, everything was good; the judge understood my side,” she said. “This is important to me because I wanted to get the same thrill and the same experience as all the other high school students. There’s no competition by myself. It was lonely and embarrassing, and I just didn’t like it. Other competitors would come up to me and they would say, ‘Good race,’ but it wasn’t really a good race because I was running by myself.”

Ok…you know what the solution is then? You find more competitors for the Paralympics. The answer isn’t crashing another sport and changing all the rules, just so you can participate to make you feel good. Sometimes in life we can’t and shouldn’t get what we want.

“There’s no competition by myself”. I found that line rather funny. Because as an athlete, it has always been my belief that the ultimate competition is with your own self. Once you begin to understand that, all the petty feelings of jealousy against other athletes dissolves. All the hurt feelings and bitter egos. I suppose this is more by-product of the self-esteem generation, where 8th place ribbons must be passed out so that there are no sore losers and hurt feelings.

MMcFadden (who has spina bifida) should be allowed to compete for a spot on the track team; to be allowed to participate, as she so desires. But she should do so without the wheels. Ditch the wheels. If she had no legs, she should be allowed to run on her stumps; not outfitted with a mechanical device that changes the whole point of the race. The competition is about who the fastest human being is on two legs. If we had a handstand walking contest and you have an amputee who is missing one arm, you’re going to…what? Allow him to enter the contest by fast-walking on his good two legs? Or strap himself onto a skateboard and wheel himself across the finish line with his one good arm? If you don’t have the God-given attributes to participate in certain sports, you know what? Tough.

Resource articles (note the “feel good” endings):

Baltimore Sun

Associated Press

Hat tip to The Dennis Prager Show for the story, where I first heard about it.

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