Tuesday, December 22, 2009

People Who Use Walkers Need Not Apply

In Denver, taking shots at the Oakland Raiders is as much a pastime as hitting the slopes during the winter. So it came as no surprise that prior to Sunday’s Oakland-Denver game, the Denver Post ran a piece detailing the recent declining success of the Raiders under the leadership of owner Al Davis. And Davis, writes author Jim Armstrong, has lost “it”:

He doesn't look the part these days, but Davis was the driving force behind what once was one of the most successful franchises in sports. No, really, we're not making this up. An 80-year-old man confined to a walker once ran circles around the competition.

Of course, Davis is not a player and doesn’t actually need to “run in circles” to effectively do his job. And it’s not clear how using a walker keeps Davis from success in the front office.
Armstrong’s comments – and a related front-page picture showing Davis using his walker – are part of a bigger cultural narrative that suggests sports are not a place for people with disabilities. It’s especially prevalent in the United States, where images of athletes with disabilities are rarely published or broadcast. The end result is a constant stream of images that define the ideal athletic body: a powerful, heterosexual, able-bodied male. The text and images in the Davis story help normalize this idea, and further suggest that whether it’s on the field or in the front office, sports are reserved for the able-bodied.
--Erin Whiteside


E Leb said...

Thanks for your post pointing out the gross ableism that the Denver Post employed when trying to smear Al Davis. I appreciate your multi-level view of the problem: the intersections of disability, sexuality, gender (and often race) are intricate and real.

Kell Brigan said...

Requiring that people advocating for or who are disabled to accept same-sex attraction disorder as normal is dishonest and manipulative. Which topic are you talking about? People with orthopedic disabilities or people with sexual disorders? Fight a fair fight, and stop the presumptuous, cheap mind games.