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The Problems of Challenger Division Baseball

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Since I can remember, I have been a baseball fan. When I was still strong enough to walk, I played a season of Challenger Division baseball. At first, baseball that encourages the participation of people with disabilities seems like a great idea. In reality, the Challenger Division of Little League Baseball is problematic.
People with developmental disabilities and people with physical disabilities are lumped together. I feel that this stereotypes all people with disabilities as being the same. People with disabilities are often very different from each other based on their individual abilities. Some can comprehend ideas better than others, while some are more physically capable. 

There was never any real attempt to expose the participants to the reality of competition. No matter what, everyone was called safe and allowed to go around the bases. According to the official page of the Little League Challenger Division, score-keeping is completely discouraged. I did not know that we lived in a world where sports teams did not lose. I am not saying that winning is everything, but it is still part of any sport.

I am all for the participation of all people in as many sports and activities as possible. However, I found it insulting that nobody had to learn the rules of baseball. I don't feel that the experiences of the Challenger Division even qualify as a sport. It felt like an odd sort of play group. My biggest concern is that the participants are denied several important life lessons that other participants of Little League receive. I don't believe that sports for kids should be ultra competitive, but they should reflect reality. 

Life is full of adversity, especially for people with disabilities. This does not give society an excuse to choose to protect us from the knowledge of adversity. It could even be argued that it is more important for myself and others with disabilities to be exposed to the challenges of competition. If anyone can experience the reality of life, it is those born into adversity who may handle it the best. I am outraged that the Challenger Division is allowed to prevent us from dealing with reality. In all honesty, this took the fun out of participating. I played for one season, and never looked back. 



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