By Ken Reed
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a Dear Colleague Letter today clarifying schools’ obligations to provide extracurricular athletics opportunities for students with disabilities under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The directive applies to K-12 schools as well as colleges and universities. The bottom line of the OCR action is that students with disabilities must be provided opportunities for physical activity and sports equal to those afforded to students without disabilities.
In a press release about the OCR’s action, issued by the Inclusive Fitness Coalition, an advocacy organization for disabled athletes, James Rimmer, Ph.D., director of the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability said, “The OCR guidance is a clear indication that athletics is an extremely important part of our educational system and that youth and young adults with disabilities must be afforded the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers.”
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has called on the Department of Education to provide resources to assist states and schools in serving students with disabilities in physical activity settings.
“We applaud OCR for its leadership and action, which we hope will pave the way for students with disabilities in sports the same way that Title IX has done for women,” said Terri Lakowski, policy chair of the Inclusive Fitness Coalition.
It’s a landmark day for disabled athletes in the United States but now comes the hard part: enforcing implementation of this mandate. Everyone who cares about equal opportunity in sports must be diligent at the local and/or national level. This isn’t an impossible task. Models are out there.
“We are ready and eager to work with schools across the country and show them that integrating students with disabilities into school athletic programs is not only feasible, but will greatly enrich the overall athletic experience for all students,” said Beverly Vaughn, Executive Director of the American Association of Adapted Sports Programs.
A lot of work has been done.
A lot is still left to do.
Get involved where you can.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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