I wasn’t going to write about the “inspiring” story that’s going viral now, where the basketball player tossed the ball to a boy with a disability – who played for the opposite team (you can watch it here). I’m just kind of sick of this stuff, frankly – the “inspiring” pieces floating around like glitter-slathered flotsam. All those kings and queens with Down syndrome. I just don’t know what to make of it, and I’m skeptical.
Besides, I wasn’t going to write about it because That Crazy Crippled Girl already wrote a brilliant, smashing piece that said everything I would have far better than I ever could – here’s the link, if you haven’t read it yet. I posted that on the blog facebook page the other day and that was where I was going to leave it.
Only… a little conversation opened up in the comments there and on other threads that had me thinking a little. Scratch that – they had me thinking a lot.
There were the comments about how people with disabilities just aren’t ever going to be happy no matter what, there will always be disagreement. I’m not sure I agree with that – the one thing that I’ve always heard loud and clear (no pun intended) is that we want to be treated equally. Because we ARE equal. We are all human; we should be treated with equal opportunities, rights and privileges. We’re not asking to be passed the ball because we want some pity, not asking for a job because we have a disability; we’re asking for a shake just as fair as everyone else. Let the playing ground be level (which may necessitate some accommodations) and let us have our chance. That’s it.
But one of the comments was really interesting because Ginger spoke of competition and how much it sucked growing up, saying:
…then I start to wonder about… our culture of winning and losing. I realized that this bothers me more than the letting someone win. I kind of just hate that winning is so important. I stopped doing a lot of awesome things that I loved because the team didn’t want me there. I was making them lose. Yeah I learned a lesson: quit unless you’re really awesome and help your team win. I wonder what it would be like to play just for the sheer love of the game? I wish there were more avenues for all of our children in that direction.
The Dignity of Loss is not something I find appealing. The dignity to screw up. To learn you’re not great at something but if you love it you can find new ways to do it. To find people who will play the way you play. Isn’t that how we find our community? I don’t have any answers really… I kind of hope that I raise [child with a disability] her like I do all my kids which is in a way that doesn’t make winning the end all anyway. And I guess that I kind of saw that in the gesture at first…that maybe the kid who passed the ball did so because for a moment he recognized someone who loved the game and wasn’t getting a chance to play. That maybe he realized winning wasn’t everything after all. Nor was losing.
I really thought that was a different way to look at it and it gave me a long pause. Then she goes on to say,
What this kid did would be awesome if we knew he’d do it for ANY kid who wasn’t getting to play. What makes the video grating, I think, is that he did it BECAUSE the other kid had a disability as opposed to because the game should be about love of the game not wining or losing. That’s what warms everyone’s hearts. If he did it with any other kid people would think he was nuts.
There. I think she nailed it for me.
What do think about it all?
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.