Category Archives: disability

Rhetoric, sports and ability

Sporting events are exceptionally significant in human culture.  In every corner of the planet kids kick a ball around.  While sports are ever present, we also have to navigate the stories that define what that play means.  Competition, fair play, hard work, hierarchy, teamwork — we are steeped in the narratives that permeates sports stories.  These stories invite participation, and they also exclude.  It is worth considering what happens when the desire to play a sport doesn’t conform to the bodily requirements of that sport.

One punchline for these stories ends with Rudy Ruettiger, the pint-sized Notre Dame football player whose hard work eventually leads the coach to put him in the game.  Another possible ending is for accommodation through the development of a new sport.  Wheelchair rugby comes to mind.

Recent convert to wheelchair racing, Victoria Stagg Elliott wonders why more  people don’t get involved in adaptive sports in an essay at The Rumpus.

What if more runners, when faced with having to hang up their shoes for whatever reason, switched to wheelchair racing rather than cycling or swimming or giving up physical activity completely?

Here’s what I think would happen:

So-called disabled athletes would have more opportunities to participate in able-bodied sports and vice-versa. We would all realize that we are more alike than different, and that playing alone really isn’t very much fun.

via What If Wheelchair Racing Were Just Another Sport? – The

I like Elliot’s take on adaptive sports, and the encouragement for people to simply play.  It seems like sports and play are worthwhile fundamental human desires — it is worth crafting a world where people who wanted to participate in any activity would get the chance.

It also takes a certain amount of work to change sports stories.  With sports the concept of fairness can help to persuade some people to make sports inclusive, but the Title IX separate-but-equal is a predictable pressure release valve.  It seems valuable to push forward on all intellectual fronts to bring forward inclusion.  To support adaptive sports, to fund and celebrate sports communities who become more inclusive, and to engage in sporting play ourselves — regardless of our level of ability.

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Filed under communication, disability, health, human rights, representation, sport

Andrew W.K. and different ability

What a nice quote from a fascinating party monster/charming lout.

Was it hard to play in a wheelchair?

It was actually easy to play. I was on crutches during the day but I couldn’t stand with the mic, play keyboard and do my headbanging on the crutches. So the wheelchair became this amazing tool that let me spin, roll around and completely isolate my leg so I could keep all the energy into my playing and singing. I had so much fun at those shows because it was a different way to use my body. It was interesting to experience how it felt to be in a wheelchair. Some people were freaked out by it and didn’t want me to play. We did a TV show performance and when they saw I was in a wheelchair they just wanted me to cancel. I said: “We’ve been playing this way, if anything I can play better. And I think people will find it interesting and exciting.” They said: “No it doesn’t look good, there’s a reason why you don’t see people in wheelchairs performing on telly!” I was just baffled by that and then I realised, holy smoke, you really don’t see people in wheelchairs on television! Why the fuck is that? Afterwards the guy apologised, he said he was wrong, the show was amazing and thanks for doing it. I realised if you’re injured it’s not just getting around that changes, it’s the whole way you’re treated.

via Andrew WK: ‘Music is a healing powerball of electric joy’ | Music |

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Changing culture about head injuries

The rapid pace of cultural transformation on some health issues has been pretty impressive.  Think about how quick major public conversations about health and safety have been about tobacco, seatbelts, and trans-fats.  In these cases it didn’t take long for laws to be changed based on health concerns.

I  think we are on the verge of a new way of thinking about head injuries and sports.  Probably one that will come with new laws and regulations.  As a marker of these changes let us note that several NFL players are suing the league for it’s antiquated approach to head injuries.

Furthermore, the court documents say the league concealed the dangers from coaches, trainers, players and the public until June 2010, when it publicly acknowledged the health threats and warned players and teams.

“While athletes in other professional sports who had suffered concussions were being effectively ‘shut down’ for long periods of time or full seasons, NFL protocol was to return players who had suffered concussions to the very game in which the injury occurred,” the lawsuit states.

via Ex-NFL Players Jamal Lewis, Dorsey Levens & Two Others Sue League Over Concussions |

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Capitalism visible: cosmetic surgery in Brazil

Interesting article about one of Brazil’s most famous plastic surgeons, who also a 2-bit philosopher.   I enjoyed the write up and noticed a few interesting moments.

1.  Capitalism is seldom visible.  But the cultivation of desires, and the normalizing of those desires can be noted.

When a good life is defined through the ability to buy goods then rights may be reinterpreted to mean not equality before the law, but equality in the market. One young man who lived in an area notorious for police violence said he longed to buy an imported car. While there is nothing unusual in this wish, what he said next surprised me: “That’s my dream. Rights for all.” This is perhaps a new idea of citizenship: social belonging depends on access to a particular standard of living.

via A ‘Philosophy’ of Plastic Surgery in Brazil –

2.  These changes are exceptionally fast.  Victorians believed cleft palette would ‘build character.’  To move from a normal space for a body to inhabit to an illness that needs remedy is pretty amazing.

Victorians saw a cleft palate as a defect that built character. For us it hinders self-realization and merits corrective surgery. This shift reflects a new attitude towards appearance and mental health: the notion that at least some defects cause unfair suffering and social stigma is now widely accepted.

via A ‘Philosophy’ of Plastic Surgery in Brazil –

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Eli Porter documentary

Eli Porter is a disabled emcee whose high school battle video has become a key hip hop trope.   Here is the documentary about the actual footage.  Complete with commentary from the internets celebrities.



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Filed under academics, disability, documentary, hip hop, homophobia, learning, media

Movement is essential

An animal needs more than just healthy food, clean water, and pure air. It needs to move, to oscillate naturally and gracefully and musically with the waveforms of life. If we repress the song and dance of life, we will die of loneliness and misery and frustration even before the radiation and toxic waste and global warming can kill us! Our society is trying to destroy the spirit as well as the body of life; both must be saved or none of us will survive.

via The Essential Teachings, Part One « Talkin’ Blues About The News.

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Pharoahe Monch & Asthma

Pharoahe Monch’s new album We Are Renegades is excellent.  Go buy  it.  If you’ve ever listened to Monch, then you know that he doesn’t fake his rhymes.   As is visible above, the back cover of his most recent album is littered with asthma inhalers.    Here is Pharoahe on the impact that his breathing struggles have had on his rhyming style.

“The asthma forced me to really go against the issue and push the envelope in terms of breath control and doing runs that I wouldn’t probably try if I didn’t have asthma,” he explained. “If I didn’t have asthma, I’d probably rhyme like the Hip Hop rock-the-spot [style]. But the fact that that shit is an element that I was fighting against, I was like, ‘Fuck that, let me make that battle, lyrically [speaking].'”

via Pharoahe Monch Talks Asthma and Rap Delivery | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales | HipHop DX.

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