On Friday, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights issued a directive to say students with disabilities must be given equal opportunity to compete in school sports.
Considering that the Americans with Disabilities Act became law in 1990, one wonders why it took so long to make kids' sports accessible to people with disabilities. Many compare this ruling to the 1972 ruling called Title IX which opened the door to women in athletics.
Some may fear that this law will "dumb down" competition, but that's not the point. As with employment provisions of the ADA, kids must be able to play the sport well to make the team. However, certain conventions exclude kids with disabilities. For example, someone who is deaf may be an excellent runner, but excluded from competition because a "gun shot" is used to start races. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Education Department said,
Like their peers without disabilities, these students benefit from participating in sports. But unfortunately, we know that students with disabilities are all too often denied the chance to participate and with it, the respect that comes with inclusion. This is simply wrong. While it's the coach's job to pick the best team, students with disabilities must be judged based on their individual abilities, and not excluded because of generalizations, assumptions, prejudices, or stereotypes.
What do you think? Was this a good decision or a poor one? How will it affect school athletics going forward?