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Sports: A civil right for students with disabilities, or our last meritocracy?


Supporters hail the Department of Education directive to accommodate students with disabilities in high school sports as a landmark decision, but Dori thinks forcing inclusivity hails the death of our last meritocracy.

“They say, this is like Title IX, when we opened up athletics to girls,” said Dori. “No, it’s not!”

The directive states that schools must accommodate students with disabilities to the best of their ability. Schools also have the obligation to provide equal funding for additional programs equal to existing programs if students can’t be accommodated in existing athletic programs.

“In other words, they will force high schools, if there are five disabled kids at a high school they will have to create a disabled basketball team,” said Dori. “They will have to fund it equally, they will have to give it equal standing.”

Dori thinks that sports are an important meritocracy, that not everyone deserves a trophy. He thinks that students with disabilities already have enough opportunities in athletics.

“Sports is a meritocracy,” said Dori. “If a kid has a disability, but is still good enough on his or her merits to make a team, they can make the team!”

News anchor Ursula Reutin, on the other hand, tried to think of the issue from the point of view of a parent, like Lisa Followay, whose son is a wheelchair athlete. She says that she, and other parents, see this directive as a way for their disabled children to be a bigger part of their school and community through sports.

“This woman who you just heard from [Lisa Followay] she said schools really need to do a better job of offering a wider variety of sports,” said Ursula. “If not the footballs [sic], maybe other sports that could accommodate disabled students.”

Dori and his wife have long been involved in supporting public schools. Dori’s wife has chaired local school levy campaigns, and Dori coaches a girl’s basketball team at Shoreline High School. Based on these experiences, Dori says the program is unworkable because of budget constraints.

“I’m telling you, because I have to manage a budget for a girl’s basketball program in a public high school, there’s not money for this,” said Dori.

What you’re saying on Facebook:

Michael Au: Sport is a hobby not a right wtf

Rob Jacobs: What about the kids that are not athletic but aren’t “disabled”?

Rosalie Curtis: Why is it the responsibility of the Public School’s to provide sports for everybody when they are struggling to provide adequate education or a SAFE environment for children? Personally I think sports should come AFTER a safe & a bully free environment for kids to learn in. I think that sports should be pursued in the private sector. Our school districts are stretched thin enough financially and otherwise.

LeeAnn Hemmingson Sievers: Basically our schools are just going to have to abandon sponsoring sports due to budget concerns. Then only well to do kids well be able to play. And they will have to be good enough to be on elite teams

Kathie Noyes: Brave Our High School is so small they barely even have sports so don’t know how they would do this!

Andrew Sack: So it seems “Equal opportunity” is coming into play. Does this mean schools should be required to provide alternative options for students who don’t pass a physical? Or how about an alternative for students with failing grades. Students who study through college courses while enrolled in K-12 schools? Why do uniquely disabled get an “equivalent experience” instead of these paralleled groups of students?

Heather James: Sports are not a civil right. This is ridiculous, this an unnecessary “unfounded mandate”. What legitimate activity will now lose funding because of this?

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