More than 54 million people in the U.S. have 1 or more physical or mental disabilities, and this number will increase as the average age of our population increases (Coakley, 2016). Yet, historically, people with disabilities have had few chances to pursue their American dream of equality of opportunity. This is particularly true with regard to sport opportunities for those with physical and mental disabilities. However, recent legislation has been passed which limits most long-standing discriminatory practices, and there are now more sport opportunities for people with physical disabilities through organizations such as the Special Olympics or the Paralympics.
Likewise, opportunities for adults over 50 are often limited, especially as they relate to sports. The number of U.S. residents older than 50 reached 100 million in 2011, which means they comprise one-third of the total population. Adults over 50 are often included among people with disabilities due to disabilities associated with age. Sport opportunities do exist for those over 50, such as through the National Senior Games Association (Senior Olympics), Senior PGA tour, and Adult/Senior Tennis leagues and tournaments.
With this in mind, and based on your sports interests and career goals, research a Paralympic, Special Olympic, or Senior sport to see how it differs from a typical sport competition. Choose a sport or competition that is of special interest to you, such as those played in wheelchairs (basketball, tennis, or fencing), “beep baseball,” goalball, or senior pickleball. Based on your research, comment on the intensity of training, fierceness of rivalries, passion for completion, and incredible personal motivation for competition.
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