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Do Paralympic Basketball Rules Stifle TRUE Competition?

with 3 comments

by Treadmarkz

In the Paralympics, a basketball team is made up of five players, each of whom is assigned an individual ranking from 1.0 to 4.5. The combined total of the rankings of the players on the court for one team at any given time cannot exceed a certain number, let’s say 15. I saw the opening game of the Paralympics tonight and the commentator made sure to stress that the ranking each player is given does not signify his level of ability, but his level of movement. We are talking about people with all different levels of paralysis here, so I can see what he meant.

But when it comes right down to it, doesn’t Kobe Bryant get more playing time with the Los Angeles Lakers because he is able to move in a more effective way than the other players on his team who play his position? And while we are on the subject of the National Basketball Association for Walkies, why is there not such an individual ranking system in the NBA(fW)? Every player in the NBA has a different level of ability, just as is the case in Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball. In the NBA, everyone has proven himself to be capable of competing at at certain level, and if not, he’s sent to the CBA or whatever, or he rides the bench all season and is used as warm-up meat for guys like Kobe in practice. The guys who are put on the court are the guys who are able to give the team its best chance at victory.
Now, I’m not trying to be an elitist or to exclude anyone from taking part in the Paralympics, which, for God’s sake, was established so that the previously excluded could be included. But making sure that each team has no more than 15 points of ability or whatever it is, on the court at any given time is about a step and a half away from the gym class games of kickball where if one team scores two runs, then in the next inning the other team automatically is allowed to score two runs. Not quite the same thing, but you see where I am coming from, I hope.

3 Responses

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  1. First off, I think that it is really, really difficult to organize handicapped athletes into groups / teams in a way that is fair to all.

    If you’re able-bodied, then you’re able-abodied and it’s mainly your talent and effort in training that counts.

    But how do you assess the impact of a handicap on an athlete’s ability for his/her chosen sport ? There are so many types and grades of handicap that – to me – it appears to be nearly impossible to classify them into categories.

    As regards team sports: An even rate of mobility for all teams seems only fair. After all, it doesn’t mean that all teams are equally good. There’s skill and tactics, dexterity and effort just as there is in “normal” sports.

    I think that as long as handicapped sports are still largely ignored by the public, there just aren’t enough athletes to group them more fairly and the IPC and other organisations simply don’t have the funds to invest into a more scientific approach to classification.


    September 7, 2008 at 10:19 AM

  2. I have to agree with karenAK. If there was not some kind of handicap on the teams one of two things would happen. Either there would be a very large number of teams, each with different levels of ability and how would they decide that? Or the teams would be made up only of players who had the best mobility and the ones who were least mobile would be overlooked, that does not seem the point of paralympics where everyone can take part. I think that it is important they are not trying to group on ability but on the physical challenges people have. However in the end as an able bodied person its not my call and if the organising body’s and participants are happy with the system we should not interfear


    September 7, 2008 at 11:58 AM

  3. although i think the previous comment pretty much hit the nail on the head…trying to assign a number to ability is contrary to the principles of ‘normal’ sporting competition but paralympians are quite different: Dame Tanni Grey–Thompson, for instance, is a supremely talented woman at what she does but to say her talent is more or less down to the amount of limbs she’s left with is simply insulting. As long as the idea that ‘Men are born equal’ persists this kind of attitude will prevail throughout society in general, never mind in sport. And, above all, how do you define ‘true’ competition? One of the principal attractions in sport is to see people overcome extraordianary odds to achieve a lifetime ambition. Each man and woman who competes in the Paralympics has already achieved this distinction.


    September 7, 2008 at 1:49 PM

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