May 17, 2006

A.D.D. in sports

I was fascinated by a recent MSNBC article about Atlanta Braves First Baseman Adam LaRouche. The title is "Blunder by Brave puts spotlight on ADD."

On Sunday, after scooping up a routine grounder that should have been the third out of the inning, LaRoche took his time getting to first and was stunningly beaten to the bag by Washington's Nick Johnson, who was hustling all the way.

The error allowed the Nationals to score four unearned runs on their way to an 8-1 victory, and led to LaRoche being benched for Monday night's game against Florida.

Not surprisingly, LaRouche was booed and hissed by the Atlanta faithful. These uncomprehending fools! Don't they know LaRouche has ADD -- Attention Deficit Disorder?? That's right -- a major league baseball player has what has to be the most commonly prescribed "disability" in the United States. Yes, you heard correct -- not being able to adequately pay attention is a "disability" according to the federal government. In [public] schools, ADD is "accommodated" usually by what is known as a "504" -- the nickname for section 504 of the 1973 Americans With Disabilities Act. Here's who's "protected" by section 504:

Any person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities include walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.

In schools, it is the "learning" portion (obviously) that is used by people (usually parents) to obtain "accommodations" for their children within regular classrooms. These can range from very simple things such as the teacher making sure the kid has his assignments written down in a planner, to allowing use of a tape recorder in class, to mandating the teacher provide a typed study guide a certain amount of days before an exam. As you might imagine, 504 (and the ADA in general) has been abused by those who attempt to seek an "advantage," or, at least, an "excuse." For example, check out Michael Scott Moore's Salon article titled "Buying Time: Disability becomes fashionable among the prep-school set when it equals extra time on the SAT." The gist of it is, how "savvy parents find a psychologist willing to make a diagnosis based on small or nonexistent quirks in their child's testing habits."

I know quite a few teachers and have heard numerous "spooky" 504 anecdotes. Basically, they're things ranging from "Does this kid really have a 'disability?'" to an insane amount of "accommodation" required for a single child -- this, for a teacher that has a total load of over, say, 150 children per day. And, it seems that every year, the ADA and 504 accommodates more and more "disabilities." How far can it go? It is a shame that some (many?) use the ADA and 504 for an advantage, especially when there are many legitimate instances of the usual disorder (ADD).

Of course, I want to make it clear that people with legitimate disabilities should be entitled to whatever the law allows. I in no way mean to belittle the true intention of the ADA, 504, nor even Attention Deficit Disorder in general. Just the abuse and ever-expansion of its definitions.

In our overly litigious society, is it beyond the realm of reason to imagine that even venues such as Major League Baseball will one day have to "accommodate" people like Adam LaRouche? Imagine. Hmm. Let's do some imagining on how the ADA and 504 might one day be woven into the sporting world ...

  • News Story: Atlanta Braves First Baseman Adam LaRouche's Attention Deficit Disorder was ruled culpable for LaRouche's seeming lethargy in not beating the Washington Nationals' Nick Johnson to the bag for an apparent routine force out. As a result, under section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Johnson was subsequently ruled "out" after a conference of the umpire crew and a pitcher's mound conference review of LaRouche's accommodation plan. Nationals manager Frank Robinson was livid at the ruling and was thrown out of the game after yelling at umpire Bob Davidison. About 10-20 disability advocates protested Robinson outside his home the next day calling him "insensitive."

  • News Story: Philadelphia Eagles running back Biff McBlow, in a controversial referee decision, was awarded a touchdown in the Eagles' division game against rival Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday. McBlow, who has ADD and an NFL accommodation plan, claimed that, after he was leveled by Dallas linebacker Al Singleton at the one yard line, he "would have been able to get across the goal line if his mind hadn't wandered." After an instant replay review appeared to show hesitation on McBlow's part, and the subsequent review of his accommodation plan, the referees gave the Eagles a touchdown. The Eagles won the game, 24-17. "This is f***ing ludicrous," yelled Cowboys coach Bill Parcells. "The decision by the NFL to allow accommodation plans for players with ADD is way worse than our decision to hire Terrell Owens. I think it's definitely time for me to retire. For good."

  • News Story: In World Cup action yesterday, the U.S. national team protested the goal by the Czech team's Pavel Nedved in the 78th minute which lifted the Czechs over the Americans, 2-1. U.S. coach Bruce Arenas showed FIFA officials the 504 accommodation plan for U.S. goalie Steve Scrub right after the apparent winning goal, and the world soccer governing body is investigating it. "The United States team has to realize that the Americans with Disabilities Act is a United States law, not an international one," said FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter. "Coach Arenas' and the U.S. team's claim is that [goalie] Scrub's 504 plan allows 'extra time for him to stop an opponent's shot into his goal.' We are trying to get a more definitive idea of what 'extra time' means as well as whether U.S. law even applies here."

  • News Story: Boston Celtics center Michael Lumppkin became the "center" of controversy when he went to officials following Steve Nash's winning shot in the Phoenix-Boston game last night. Lumppkin and coach "Doc" Rivers immediately called over game officials after Nash's winning field goal, and showed them papers. The papers apparently demonstrate how Lumppkin has a 504 accommodation plan which, among other things, "allows him to be coach-directed when he's distracted." Lumppkin suffers from ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder. Since Rivers was yelling at two other team members to prepare for a potential rebound, Lumppkin and Rivers argued that the latter was "unable to direct Lumppkin to jump up and block Nash's shot." Rivers argued that given the proximity of Lumppkin to Nash, there "is an extremely high probability that Lumppkin (who stands at 6'10") would have blocked the shot." Rivers and the Celtics wanted Nash's jumper to be disallowed, giving them the victory. Game officials left the game stand as completed (Nash's shot counting), but they said they may have to bring the two teams back together to play the last twelve seconds of the game if a judge decides in the Celtics' favor. A hearing is scheduled for Friday.

(Thanks to Hube for the writing assist!)

Posted by Felix at May 17, 2006 04:23 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Hahahahahahahaha. Yeah, this would be real funny if it wasn't so probable. With all the ADD/ADHD "diagnosed" kids we have in schools today, I can just see the ADA cases mounting.

Posted by: Bronwen at May 17, 2006 10:07 PM

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