Articles

BANKSHOT MEETS THE NEEDS OF SEDENTARY CHILDREN

Before Bankshot was invented, little thought and scant attention were given for sports to be inclusive or intentionally designed to accommodate overlooked segments of the population. "Sports" derive from "Sparta" and were projected to be fast moving, aggressive and not infrequently violent. The sports field was conceived as a battlefield. The great majority of sports, particularly those which are played with a ball, necessitate participants to belong to a sliver of a population. There is no "total-mix based on universal design." Age, size, strength and speed besides gender keep groups apart in these sports. Accessibility continues to be confused with inclusion as though a ramp to a basketball or tennis court has any more than symbolic value. The question is often posed as, "When was the last time you observed a wheelchair user on the sidelines awaiting his (or, imagine, her) turn to play fast moving sports with non-wheelchair users?"

Bankshot, by contrast with combat sports, was designed with a specific purpose in mind: to meet the needs of the underserved in the world of ball playing sports: by the mixture of gender and age; by having the differently able mainstreaming along with all others; and with all players participating at no disadvantage regardless of size, strength, gender, age or disability. Bankshot sports are Total-Mix facilities based on universal design and therefore not subject to "program" schedules but ready for use like other facilities available for participants who are not differently able. What therefore does Bankshot accomplish? Clearly not what the playing fields of Eton achieved by preparing men for battle. Bankshot was meant to prepare participants and players for cooperation and compatibility, that is, civility. Playing by fair rules with no inherent advantages or disadvantages.

Bankshot sports were invented to address the issue of lack of activities, lack of movement and lack of the outdoors. These deficiencies apply most especially for the post-playground age group, the youngsters from 6 to 16, prior to participation or not in the ubiquitous exclusionary combat sports.

"It's plain and simple," said Michelle Obama, the first lady, in explaining how one-third of American children came to be overweight or obese. "They're not eating right, and they're not moving their bodies at all." A Nature Conservancy report a few years ago linked the decline in children's interest in the outdoors to their being under 'virtual house arrest' to electronic media, spending 6.5 hours a day face-planted in Facebook, Xbox, television, a text-tablet or some other device."

Writing in the New York Times, Paul Heckman and Carla Sanger, July 7, 2009 point out that "Afterschool programs respond to the interest of students with activities they are passionate about, like the arts, sports and science. Unfortunately, the programs are threatened by shrinking budgets, and by policies that seek to divert the focus from youth development to remedial academics that duplicate the regular school day. Public funds should be invested in afterschool programs that offer experiential learning. For some students, this is the only enticement to stay in school." Inclusive facilities for solitary and group participation including the differently able, which encourage spontaneous activity and not programs alone must be out there for all children and families. Outside everyone! Move your bodies. Improve your minds. Play ball.