Karen defines disability as persons who have disabilities or individuals with a physical impairment. These people have entered into the sport world and various terms have been used to describe them in bid to describe sports designed for people with disabilities. However, according to Karen this term does not fully describe entity of sports in which athletes with disabilities can be found. Sport in this context adopts a broader meaning including all individuals with disabilities and hence disability sport focusing more on the competitive sport and athletes with disabilities.
This includes goal ball for blind athletes, wheelchair basketball for athletes with physical impairment who use wheelchair, or sitting volleyball for athletes with lower-limb impairments. Disability sport also includes athletics, swimming, volleyball that have been adopted to include athletes with disabilities. Deaf sport is often considered a separate entity from disability sport, but has become included within the context of disability sport. In the past, sport was only accessible to few and many people were locked outside the sporting arena.
These included women, members of ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities, due to culture, gender, ethnicity, and class or disability affiliation. Due to these stereotypes, persons with disabilities were marginalized and had limited participation in social issues. They had been secluded and disenfranchised and there has been extremely inclusion and acceptance in the sport arena. There was a perception that people with disabilities were weak or physically impaired hence could not participate in sports.
Such treatment was also extended to women as gender and also women with disabilities. The medical restrictions also played part in excluding persons with disabilities form participating in sports. These were also due to the attitude of doctors’ and lack of knowledge. This has decreased and there is now more research done, appreciation of the abilities of such people as socialization with other members of society increases. There has been a tendency by the society to reject or discourage youth with disability to deviate from the social role or expectations such as just watching to play.
This denies such youths the opportunity to develop appropriate sport behavior early in life. There has also been mixed attitudes toward people with disabilities participating in sports. This perceived frailty, weakness, experience resulting from defeat, has discouraged such people from competing. At the same time, disability sport ahs been viewed as lower sporting activity and not a legitimate sport. Less public recognition, awards, opportunities and media attention ahs not been given to this sport.
However, there is little emerging integrated participation in sporting events. Main barriers to inclusion in sports have been the society’s attitude towards individuals with disabilities due to myths, categorizing and hence grouping people, stereotyping, common misconceptions that persons with disabilities could not perform certain sports, lack of organized sport programmes, lack of informal early experiences in sport, lack of coaching and training, limited access to sport facilities and limiting psychological and sociological factors.
However, some of these barriers have been reduced through increasing number of role models for aspiring athletes with disabilities, increasing visibility if disability sport resulting to more sport opportunities, community-based recreational and sport prograsmmes for people with disabilities have increased though they are not sufficient in tapping the potential and the population of individual with disabilities, there is an increased number of trained professionals and physical educators to train people with disabilities.
Physical and attitudinal barriers initially limited athletes with disabilities from meaningful participation in sports. Despite the much progress and greater opportunity today for athletes with disability, economic, psychological and social barriers remain. Disability sport has made its mark upon society and individuals with disabilities have become recognized as athletes for their achievements and accomplishments in sports. Legislative framework ahs also made disability sport more accessible.
Nowadays physical and competitive sport has become viable opportunities for individuals with disabilities. It is clear that the disability sport is taking root and being assimilated in the social values. The past discrimination has decreased in such magnitudes. Milestones have been achieved even incorporation into the Olympics. However, major challenges still face this sport. The perception of the people having disabilities should change so as not to view themselves as lesser members of the society.
The nature of posing as passive recipients of the reformation process needs to be changed to active participation and pro-activeness in bring more changes within this sector. Competitive sport has not been fully integrated in the developing countries which sill struggle with organizational structures and poverty has not paid much attention to disability sport. It is therefore critical that processes that lead to poverty be addressed by capacity building of the disability groups through funding, education and training.
Karen observes that persons with disabilities have participated and won both in the able-bodied arenas and also in the disability sports. This shows great potential among those with disabilities of kind. This potential ought to be tapped and exploited at national and global level through integrated forums like intercontinental sports. At the same time the disability sport is bound to grow as more recognition is given and also may reduce as it sis being integrated into mainstream sport.