Wheelchair Basketball Facing Exclusion from Upcoming Paralympics

A current dispute between The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) is centred around how players should be evaluated and which ones should be eligible to compete. Due to this issue, the sport will possibly be excluded from the 2020 Paralympics.

United States’ players celebrate after gold medal game at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. (Source: Mauro Pimental/AP Sportsnet)

Wheelchair basketball includes a wide range of athletes with disabilities, while rules are required to make sure inclusion of different severity is made possible. For this to happen and to allow for athletes with differing capabilities to compete fairly, player classification must be used. Player classification ranges from 1.0 to 4.5 where athletes that are more limited are assigned to lower classes and athletes assigned to higher classes have fewer limitations. Based on one’s classification number, the total number of points on the court must not exceed 14 points. The IPC wishes to re-evaluate the wheelchair basketball players that would be competing in the Paralympics.

Athlete classification is integral to all Paralympic sport and the failure of any sport to comply with the IPC Athlete Classification Code is of critical concern to us because it could threaten the integrity of competition.

Andrew Parsons -IPC President

Teams could be mislabeling their athletes in the wrong classification level, giving an advantage in functional abilities on the court over opponents. This idea over conforms to the ethics of competition and can be seen as deviance in sport. The two organizations, IPC and IWBF, show differences in their beliefs and rules relating to the athlete classification system. We can ask ourselves which party is over conforming to the ethics of the sport? Or what is positive deviance and negative deviance?

Matthew. C

Featured Image: Canadian player Patrick Anderson (12) competing at the wheelchair basketball competition in 2017. (Source: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images)

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