Reasonable Accommodations for High School Athletes with Disabilities: Preserving Sports While Providing Access for All

James P. Looby

affiliation not provided to SSRN

September 2, 2011

Sports Law Journal, Vol. 19, p. 227, 2012

A “reasonable accommodation” in high school sports can encompass a variety of options, but at what point does an accommodation request exemplify unreasonableness? Courts and scholars alike have struggled to define the limits of accommodation requests for high school athletes under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision in PGA Tour v. Martin, analyzing whether granting a request would fundamentally alter the sport and whether the request would cause an individual to receive an unfair competitive advantage has become the governing standard. But standards do not guarantee certain results. One scholar has argued the Martin framework has resulted in high school athletes with disabilities being unfairly discriminated against, especially in the track and field arena. However, an individualized inquiry into the relevant facts, coupled with a focus on the purpose behind the Acts (access), suggests that courts since Martin have arrived at the correct results. Although the possible future accommodation requests are endless, one request that athletic associations should universally grant is a separate wheelchair race for athletes with disabilities during high school track meets.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 67

Keywords: disability, disabled, sport, athletics, Martin, track, wheelchair, Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act, high school, physical, mental, impairment, access, equal opportunity, request, reasonable accommodation, individualized inquiry, essential rule, fundamental alteration, track

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Date posted: September 3, 2011 ; Last revised: May 16, 2012

Suggested Citation

Looby, James P., Reasonable Accommodations for High School Athletes with Disabilities: Preserving Sports While Providing Access for All (September 2, 2011). Sports Law Journal, Vol. 19, p. 227, 2012. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1921433

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