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The Americans With Disabilities Act And Its Impact On Athletics

1921 words - 8 pages

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which took effect July 26, 1992, prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.( Americans with Disabilities Act,1990) The Americans with Disabilities Act will enable society to benefit from the skills and talents of individuals with disabilities and will allow us to gain from their increased purchasing power and ability to use it. From the first sight, it may seem that the Americans with Disabilities Act has nothing to do with athletics and cannot have any impact on it. However, in the closer analysis it is seen, what effects the Americans with Disabilities Act has on athletics.Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. .1681 et seq.) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs receiving Federal financial assistance. Athletics are considered an integral part of an institution's education program and are therefore covered by this law. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) contain no specific exemption for professional sports. During the floor debate on the ADA, no such exemption was even discussed. The only mention of professional sports during these debates concerned the ADA's possible effects on the drug test policies of the National Football League, the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball.Many people are afraid that the world of professional athletics is facing some radical changes. Several federal cases have addressed the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act to professional sports. Casey Martin, a professional golfer whose disability prevents him from walking a full round of golf, sued the Professional Golf Association ("PGA") Tour for the right to use a golf cart in PGA competition. Another case was dealing with Ford Olinger, also a professional golfer with a disability. He sued the United States Golf Association ("USGA"), claiming he should be allowed to use a golf cart in U.S. Open competition. As a result, Casey Martin has won his suit, but Ford Olinger has not.( Sullivan, Lantz, 2002) However, regardless of the outcomes of both cases, they illustrate that the Americans with Disabilities Act does apply to athletics. Also, both cases have rejected the idea that professional sports are categorically exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act. This position has no support in the text of the ADA, or in its legislative history. Thus, the existence of those cases can be viewed as an important step forwards the interaction between the ADA and professional sports. Professional sports are full of specific characteristics, which will contribute to opening tricky cases; therefore applying the Americans with Disabilities Act to...

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