One of the major sports played by handicapped individuals with the use of wheelchairs is that of Basketball. The St. Louis area is fortunate to have two groups, the Rolling Rams and the Junior Rolling Rams.
I have coached Basketball for over 30 years. I have had the honor of working with some very good boys and girls over that time. However, even they would struggle at times with the game of Basketball. So it is not too hard to imagine how hard it is to play the game in a wheelchair. Watching these wheelchair athletes play is amazing. They have mastered the skills just like everyone else. They are aggressive and have a strong desire to compete.
The first wheelchair games took place after World War II in 1946 between disabled military veterans. You can also try out this hardest NBA quiz in order to learn new facts about the history of the game. Since that time the sport has grown and evolved to be one of the favorite sports for handicapped individuals.
In the United States, the National Wheelchair Basketball Association was founded in 1948. Their web site www.nwba.org has lots of information for those that are interested or involved in the sport. they have over 200 teams in 22 different conferences throughout the US.
At first, the play was loosely structured. However, there was a great concern for paraplegic individuals. Some felt that they had a distinct disadvantage.when it came to play. Eventually, though, the paraplegics won out and all were admitted into play.
From 1950-53 the Rolling Rams of St. Louis were the NWBA Champs. As the years went by, the success of Wheelchair Basketball has expanded to other countries. It has become an international affair. They even have the sport in the disabled Olympiad. They have a Gold Tournament and World Championship as well.
In the ‘70s, the University of Illinois started women’s Wheelchair Basketball. It has steadily grown since that time. Juniors are now allowed to participate as well. There are even Wheelchair Basketball camps during the summer at different locations. This summer at the University of Illinois, an elite camp that will feature the top 24 junior players in the world. It will take place on June 24-28. Then in July a camp that is open to all beginners will be held at U of I. This camp is scheduled for the 6th through 10th. More information on these camps can be found at the NWBA web site above.
The rules for wheelchair Basketball or about the same as regular Basketball with a few exceptions. They are traveling; a player may hold a ball while two pushes of the wheel are allowed. Tilting or Falling; This is where a player uses the footrests to lean forward or the back casters to touch the floor. Physical Advantage Foul; a player uses a good leg or arm to impair another player’s play. Five Second Lane violation; Unlike regular players, where you get 3 seconds in the free throw lane, wheelchair players get five seconds. Double Dribble; there is no double dribble rule.
The Junior Rolling Rams will play charity games to raise money to send their players to camp or tournaments. They will usually play individuals that aren’t handicapped. However, everyone must use a wheelchair when they play. They attract some very large crowds.
Wheelchair Basketball has given individuals a vehicle for play and competition. For many individuals, it has also given them hope that they can do activities like regular individuals.