While our country, and really the world as a whole, struggles with major decisions such as gender, guns, books, religion and basic human rights, the one thing that everyone seems to agree on is the importance of sports in our culture.
There is no doubt that the sports business industry is exploding around the world, moving from a million dollar industry to a billion dollar industry to a trillion dollar industry just in my lifetime. With world class athletes from every sport receiving 100 million dollar contracts along with 10-figure venues being built all over the world for a single event before being deserted, the excess and waste is readily visible everywhere.
Even the industry is moving away from the traditional sports model, and non-traditional sports are becoming major cash enterprises. We are watching as the global expansion of sports is showing an affinity to accept the US model of sports globally and the exploration of the international model of sports being explored here. Soccer academies and budding soccer developmental programs for our youngest talents are popping up in almost every MLS city across the country.
It is time to help the forgotten demographic in society make a move towards independence. People with disabilities (PWD) are a prominent source of employment value, but are generally ignored by most. The argument is often that the additional cost to accommodate a PWD in a certain level of employment seems unnecessary and cuts into the possible profit margin. Well… has the sports business model just given us an opening that PWD’s could possibly take advantage of? Has the abundance of cash within the industry open the door to the possibility that the normal arguments against PWD inclusion are no longer relevant? The fact that every job in corporate America is available in the sports world is what could make a difference for the inclusion of PWD in sports administration.
Now the big question is, how do we achieve this partnership? What must be done to identify those sports organizations willing to open their doors to further inclusion? I say further inclusion because we are seeing some softening of the gender roles in predominantly male sports. Female coaches have been given the opportunity to filter into the men’s game. Could the disability community make a similar contribution? The Final Four gave us a preview of this as a support staffer for San Diego State was a wheelchair user. Not only did this provide us with the recipe to replicate, but it also showed the world that PWD have a place in the sports world. More visibility means less stigma and more acceptance. What can we do? Send those responses to Let’s Be Frank. We are trying to bring change and we need your help!