Athletics and Disabilities Are Not Mutually Exclusive


  • Dena Werner Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University


Youth sports, athletics, interscholastic opportunities, disabilities


Youth sports create opportunities for children to be active, to form friendships, and to learn essential life skills. Playing sports teaches children endurance, stamina, and accountability. Athletics also help children to develop confidence, to enhance moral and physical character, and to learn executive functioning and emotion regulation skills.  Yet, despite the overarching benefits of athletics, children with physical disabilities continue to be marginalized and excluded from athletic opportunities. They are excluded from private sports teams, minor leagues, extracurricular, and interscholastic athletic opportunities.  These acts of exclusion create additional barriers for children living with disabilities by worsening their internal emotional struggles and wrongly confirming their misgivings of being productive members of society. This article highlights the impact that the exclusion from athletic opportunities has on children living with physical disabilities. It outlines key issues and provides actionable recommendations to promote a more inclusive environment where all children can have equal access to athletic opportunities.