Sports Series: Wheelchair Football

Sports Series: Wheelchair Football

We were looking in the school systems to
combine as many of the population of those with physical disabilities as
possible in to make it viable at the community level. Wheelchair football was
a sport that was being played, somewhat intramural at some colleges and some
other things. Ron Lykins, who was our training director at the time also
extensive back ground with the NWBA. We asked him if he could develop a bona
fide interscholastic sport called wheelchair football for us. Along with the
coaches that we already had trained. So, we sat down and we had an inaugural
season, just to kinda see how it would work. We knew that officials are key when
you’re doing a sports league, in any league, but especially in the schools. So, we
wanted to see if we could actually enlist Georgia High School Association football
referees. This was going to be a big task. Turns out they loved it. They then brought
more information about how they thought this could work. So, it evolved over, I
would say a couple of seasons. We now have wheelchair football. It is very much like able body football. Of
course we don’t have the field, but we still measure downs. We do it on a basketball
court. Terry: It’s basically they same as regular
football, we have a line of scrimmage, three people on the line. We have six
players per team on the field. Two hand touch. They play in chairs. They’re some
children that are able to play in power chairs and they have to touch with one
hand; any part of the chair. They play two thirty-minute running halves, running
clock. Tim: The only rule that is different is the
power chairs, they don’t have to catch the ball. As long as it hits the chair it’s a
catch. Terry: Just like high school football they
have the line of scrimmage.When they send people in motion they have to
become set. If they send more than two people in motion they have to become set
for a second before they snap the ball. Tim: When you fumble the ball it’s dead
right there. They’re no onside kicks or kicks-offs.Once the ball is there it’s there. Terry: You can’t fake any punts or any
kicks. On fourth down we ask them if to declare, “You going to punt or are you
going for the first down?” Terry: Point system is six or a
touchdown. The power chairs, to score a touch down, just their front casters have
to touch the goal line. For a touch down with possession of the ball. But the
manual chairs have to actually have the ball across the goal line plane for a score. Wesley: PAT is a little different. They do
that from the top of the key and it goes over the backboard of the goalpost. And
has to stay inside the backboard. They can attempt a field-goal from any part of
the court as long as they have the arm to reach it. Terry: They have to let us know, you can’t
fake it, you tells if “we’re going for one or we’re going for two. ” Terry: It has all the basic penalties:
off-sides, encroachment, holding – Tim: Except hold is not with your hands.
They hook the chairs into the wheelchair spokes. Terry: – personal fouls. If they’re going
to tag someone and they hit exceptionally hard with a chair. Tim: The sides especially. Terry:You’ll hear a real loud bang, usually
that’s ramming. Tim: Sports chairs usually require no
padding because they’re already fixed, have curves, they have no points. No,
sharp objects on it. Power chairs, they can’t be higher than five inches above the
floor. Because some of them can’t get down because of their disability, so they
have to have padding all the way down to cover it. And it has the sharp edges.
That’s just to protect the other players. Don’t want them to hurt their legs, hurt
their feet, get caught in the spokes and all that. Then on the back of the chairs
you’ve got the handles. If they don’t have the stobs – Terry: Rubber caps. Tim: Caps on it. If it has parts that stick
out that maybe adjust the head rest that’s rough you have to put – Any thing that
can hurt some body has got to be covered with protective material. Wesley: Probably the number one thing
that most people use, is they just regular old pool noodles that you can get from
the store. Because they usually slide right over the handles – Tim: And duct tape. Wesley: – and they just tape it right on.
That usually works good. Terry: All kids have to have a strap
behind their achilles to keep their feet.Then there are some that have to put
them across because of – Tim: Spasms. Terry: Their foot can come out and it
could get caught between chairs.

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