The Power Of Disability

Can disability be connected to excellence?  First I am going to define what disability is according to dictionary.com.  It is defined as a lack of adequate power, strength, or physical or mental ability; incapacity.  When you see someone that has a disability what is your initial reaction?  For me I feel a sense of pity and I want to help them immediately.  According to the ADA it states that someone who has a disability should not be entitled to fewer opportunities and respect than a non-disabled person. This is what Mika Lavaque-Manty states in Being a Woman and Other Disabilities.  But what happens when disabled people participate in able-bodied competition? Can they achieve excellence compared to someone without a disability?

There are many examples of great athletes in sports that have overcome their disabilities and have strived in their sport.  Take Jim Abbott for example, a University of Michigan Alumni.  Have you ever heard of him?  Well if you follow baseball and know about the New York Yankees then you’ve probably heard of this one-of-a-kind pitcher.  On September 4th, 1993 Jim Abbott threw a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians.  Since the 1990 MLB season there have only been 65 games where no-hitters happened.  That is on average a little less than 3 no-hitters each season and Jim Abbott is one of them.

Jim Abbott pitches for the University of Michigan

Jim Abbott pitches for the University of Michigan

So what makes Jim Abbott so special?  He was born without a right hand and despite being born with this disability he was able to play major league baseball, a sport that requires you to use both of your hands in order to succeed.  He was drafted in the first round of the 1988 Major League Baseball Draft after he pitched at the University of Michigan and in 1987 was honored as nation’s best amateur athlete by winning the James E. Sullivan Award while attending the University.  In his career in the MLB he retired with 87 wins and with an earned run average of 4.25 runs.

He was able to figure out a way to overcome his disability as you can see in the video.  He would pitch with his left hand and then immediatly after pitching the ball would switch his glove from his disabled right arm into his left hand just in case the ball was to come his way.  People may think if they never saw him play that this would be an impossible task; however he was able to do it for 10 years in Major League Baseball.  There have been many great people that were born with a disability that have overcome it in the world of sports and Jim Abbott is just one of these special cases. Other tremendous athletes that have overcome adversities are Oscar Pistorius, Melissa Stockwell, Bethany Hamilton and many more. Ultimately I believe that disabled athletes should not let their disabilities limit their opportunities. I believe that disability is connected to excellence and athletes like Jim Abbott have proved that this can be done.

Bethany Hamilton surfing

Bethany Hamilton surfing

Oscar Pistorius running at a track meet

Oscar Pistorius running at a track meet

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One comment

  1. acfalk2 · October 23, 2014

    I really appreciate your article because so many people think that a disability literally will disable someone from playing a sport. This is so untrue. There is always the exception, or the athlete who is too determined to let something such as a disability stop them from achieving their dreams, or to stop them from winning. Personally growing up a few of my friends were disabled, and this never stopped them. Yes, it took them longer when transitioning the ball, but the time they lost while doing this, they made up for in other aspects of the game. Still, in today’s media, disabilities are portrayed as a roadblock in someones athletic journey, but networks such as ESPN are doing more and more specials (30:30) on athletes who have a disability, and over come it with ease. An example would be a program they did about ten years ago, on a boy who lost his right arm and leg after birth. He is currently excelling in baseball and soccer. Examples like these can be found everywhere, proving that disabilities are not disabling people, rather they are pushing people to be more determined and driven. Your article does a great job proving this point, and shows just how able everyone is, even if their able-ness is more unique than others.

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