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Physical and Sport Education Degree Programme
PSE6016 – Applied Adapted Physical and Sport Activity
The term disability is delineated as having a “physical or mental impairment”, that has a continual negative effect on an individual’s everyday activities including interaction between features of a person’s body or social interaction with other individuals (WHO, 2017; The Equality Act, 2010; Reindal, 2008). Disability has constantly been an area whereby there have been various misunderstandings and interpretations of the visual aspects of how to identify an individual with a disability. Thomas (2004) believes that there has been a change, in regards to how disabilities are perceived. The main cause for debate is whether the changes put in place will have positive consequences on the ideology of disability and whether individuals with disabilities feel they have been aided positively. It is strongly believed that the following issues; global, local, social and psychological are the four most common barriers linked to disability sport, as they are deemed to be the reason individuals with disabilities are not willing to participate in sport on a regular basis (Jarawa et al., 2014). As a practitioner by having an understanding of these potential barriers and issues within the evolution of disability sport, this can be deemed crucial when developing and advancing your teaching techniques, as this can also help to create an inclusive, positive and enjoyable learning environment allowing each individual to strive for success.
When taking into account global sport, and the engagement levels of disabled athletes through public encouragement, there is an astronomical coverage portrayed through the media and advertisement. A prime example where this is used is the Olympics. The Olympics is an international competition whereby a divergent range of top-athletes from all around the world compete in a broad range of sporting events, in an attempt to be awarded bronze, silver and gold medals for their country. It has been recognised by Sharp (2017); McPherson et al., (2016); Girginov and Hill (2008) that there is a substantial increase in an acknowledgement from governments, who deem that worldwide sporting competitions have the potential to devise legacies and contribute to the perceptions of social change for local communities.
By utilizing effective media coverage and indoctrination from these major sporting competitions, research has concluded that the use of indoctrination is an efficient method used by the government, in order to promote a healthier way of life and to boost participation levels within the society of disability sport (Sport England, 2018). As well as the Olympics, there is also considerable coverage of the Paralympics, however it is deemed that Paralympians are not receiving the same benefits as able-bodied athletes within competitions. An example of this is some Paralympic athletes are unable to participate within these world-wide competitions, due to the lack of travel arrangements promised by governing bodies and advertised through the media (Heilpern, 2016). A key factor that is perceived to aid the view of disability sport and events is education, whereby schools that involve disabled athletes consequently run their own disabled sporting competitions, educating their pupils as to the advantages these major sporting events can have and how this can have an impact on each of their personal participation levels, whilst also advertising and motivating all forms of athletes whether they are Paralympic or Olympic athletes. This could potentially contribute to the incline of observation and recognition towards these world-wide competitions within local communities. Nevertheless, the publicity of these competitions will always be associated with any kinds of risks.
The word “Paralympics” has the cognomen of “Para”, which has a definition of beside of, not normal and different. These definitions prove that even a major world-wide competition sets aside athletes through labelling and perceives them to be contrasted from the rest of the world. During the London 2012 Paralympic games, Channel 4 designed an advert called “Meet the Superhumans” (Channel 4., 2012), this advert was deemed to glorify an individual for having a disability through promoting disabled athletes in an incorrect manner. By glorifying an individual, it will indirectly create a hierarchy that is unnecessary and will in turn dehumanise the athlete. Through this negative media coverage, it creates the perception that disabled athletes are unable to do things for thereselves, resulting in society believing that they are heavily reliant on able-bodied athletes empowering disabled athletes requiring assistance (British Paralympic Association, 2016; Howe, 2008). As a practitioner, when it comes to teaching disabled individuals you must take into consideration that the minority of individuals will not declare themselves to be “different” from others around them, it is important that all individuals disabled or able-bodied are all treated equally in order to pursue their athletic ambition, no matter the complication.
In a recent research study, Activity Alliance | Disability Inclusion Sport (2019) interprets that in the United Kingdom 57% of individuals with physical disabilities states that they do not perform in any form of sporting activities, this percentage is an extremely worrying figure for such a developed country that produces such exceptional athletes and highlights the reoccurring issue of participant involvement on a global measure. This follows on to state that on average 21% of able-bodied individuals do not participate in any form of physical activity either, which suggests that participation is an overall issue, however these statistics are more accepted within the local community if the individual has a physical impairment. By having an understanding that the main issue is participation within sporting activities, this empathises the importance of practitioners encouraging individuals to begin participating and as a result can have a significant effect towards promoting disability involvement.
Additionally, by knowing the issue is participation empathizes the importance of educators to encourage athletes to participate if it is their students as they respond better being their teacher. Following on from this even though there is low level of participation of disablility sport given we are in the 21st century the levels of sport participation are considerably higher than in the 14th century.
- Activity Alliance | Disability Inclusion Sport. (2019). Retrieved from http://www.activityalliance.org.uk
- British Paralympics Association [BPA]. 2016. Official Website of the BPA. [ONLINE]. Available at: http://paralympics.org.uk
- Channel 4. (2012, July 17). Channel 4 Paralympics – Meet the Superhumans. [VIDEO]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuAPPeRg3Nw&t=27s
- Girginov, V., & Hills, L. (2008). A sustainable sports legacy: Creating a link between the London Olympics and sports participation. The international journal of the history of sport, 25(14), 2091-2116.
- Heilpern, W. (2016). Why the Olympics and Paralympics are still separate events. Business Insider, 17.
- Howe, P. D. (2008). The tail is wagging the dog: Body culture, classification and the Paralympic movement. Ethnography, 9(4), 499-517.
- Jarawa, E. A., Dijkstra, P. U., Geert Zen, J. H. B., & Dekker, R. (2014). Barriers to and facilitators of sports participation for people with physical disabilities: A systematic review. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 24(6), 871-881.
- McPherson, Gayle, et al. “Elite athletes or superstars? Media representation of para-athletes at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.” Disability & society 31.5 (2016): 659-675.
- Randal, S. M. (2008). A social relational model of disability: a theoretical framework for special needs education?. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 23(2), 135-146.
- Sharp, B. (2017). The role of major events in the creation of social legacy: a case study of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games (Doctoral dissertation, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh).
- Sport England. (2018, February 26). How do I demonstrate the benefits of sport to health improvement? [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.sportengland.org/our-work/partnering-local-government/scenarios/how-do-i-demonstrate-the-benefits-of-sport-to-health-improvement/
- The Equality Act. 2010. Definition of disability. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/definition-of-disability-under-equality-act-2010.
- Thomas, C. (2004). How is disability understood? An examination of sociological approaches. Disability & society, 19(6), 569-583.
- WHO. 2017. Disabilities. [ONLINE] Available at: http://who.int/topics/disabilities/en/.
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