I just finished wheelchair basketball practice. I enjoyed it. As I was rebounding like a machine and dropping buckets like Bernard King, I began to realize how much my chair skills have improved.
I use to use my sportschair (which is the proper term for a basketball wheelchair) everyday during my Junior year in college, and I used it to go to the school gym every time I had a break between classes. (Ah, the memories.)
Yet, despite how much I love my sportschair — and how beneficial it has been to me over the years — sometimes I wanted to punch the darn contraption, even if I broke my hand in the process.
PRO: It’s lightweight.
Some wheelchairs weigh a ton. God help anyone has to carry any of those kinds of wheelchairs on a quotidian basis. However, the sportschair is so lightweight that some people can lift it with one hand, making it easier on the back muscles, and all upper body muscles in general.
PRO: It’s fast.
Again, the wheelchairs that weigh as much as mammoths tend to be slow like mammoths. Yet, with a sportschair, because it is lightweight, it moves so much faster than a regular wheelchair, which is great, if an individual is in a rush to go somewhere. Besides, who doesn’t like moving fast?
PRO: It’s easy to maneuver.
A lot of people think that the faster something goes, the harder it is to control. Not so with sportschairs. I have gone down many slopes and have always been able to make a sharp, quick turn or a quick stop when I needed to.
If anything, regular chairs are harder to control when going down a hill, because they do not stop immediately when an individual needs them to.
I remember using a heavy regular wheelchair one day during my time at community college; I fell out my chair three times that day going down a hill. I fell because my chair would not stop in time, and I would go off the sidewalk.
PRO: It builds upper body strength.
There are no handles in the back of a sportschair, which I love, because now I have an upper body that makes Hulk Hogan look like a puny seventh grader.
CON: It’s not for everyday use.
Like I said, I used my sportschair for school during my Junior year at William Peace University. While it helped me carry the loads of textbooks I had in my backpack, that was pretty much the only good it did me during that time period.
Going in and out of doorways was a pain, because I could not fit through them without damaging the axles or adjusting my chair at an odd angle. There would be marks on the door frames.
Additionally, no one should ever use his or her sportschair on a daily basis, because the tires, along with other parts of the chair, could get damaged, which leads me to the next and ultimate con:
CON: They’re expensive.
Anyone can buy a pair of Air Jordan shoes for a couple of hundred dollars. However, a sportschair can cost anywhere between $2,000-$3,000. In an interview I had with my teammate and Programs Coordinator at Bridge II Sports, Michael Atkins, he said, “Adaptive sports equipment is so over priced it’s not even funny.”
Some of my readers are asking the question, “Why, oh why, William are these sportschairs so expensive?” Well, as Ashley Thomas, Founder and Executive of Bridge II Sports, a nonprofit organization that specializes in adaptive sports, said, “They [the makers of the sportschairs] can’t mass-produce it.”
Think about how that situation affects Bridge II Sports and other adaptive sports organizations, from a financial perspective. They have garages filled with adaptive sports equipment, which could equal roughly $100,000+ spent on that material alone.
They have to make sure it is in good condition before every adaptive sporting event, so that they do not have to spend any extra cash on such a huge investment.
To me, sportschairs are expensive, but as long as the individual knows how to manage them correctly, they’re worth the money.
What do you think about sportschairs? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Leave a comment below.