Time to rethink the word ‘disabled’
January 15, 2008
I’m amazed by this story on the BBC today. The ramifications are immense.
Firstly, we have a “disabled” man, Oscar Pistorius (who has no legs), being told he can’t run in the Olympics 400m sprint.
Well, duh, I hear you say. He’s disabled. Of course he can’t.
The reason is, his prosthetic limbs are so good they give him an advantage over the “normal” athletes. He uses 25% less energy to run at the same speed.
That is so cool it makes my teeth ache.
It really does go to the heart of the whole “drugs in sport” debate as well I think. I’m opposed to letting athletes take drugs to perform better if only because I think of it as a kind of cheating. Sure, different shoes, different clothes, different training regimes all offer different athletes a different set of tools to work with, but none of those (I don’t think) will actually damage their bodies, while drug taking seems to do just that.
The athletes are supposed to be the best physical specimen they can be and taking drugs, to my way of thinking, breaks that rule.
Does that mean if an athlete starts taking a drug that doesn’t cause long-term damage then it would be OK? I don’t know. Mine is not a well thought out theory.
Can we now consign “disabled” to the linguistic scrap heap?