The Monday Memo
February 19, 2018 PITT DPT STUDENTS
This coming weekend, I will be participating in the Tip Off at Trees 3vs3 Wheelchair Basketball tournament, along with another classmate and DPT program professor. After signing up, I wanted to learn a little more about the sport of wheelchair basketball so I looked into the background of the game. I wanted to write this piece to highlight the history of the sport and the state that it is in today.
The game of wheelchair basketball was born in Veteran Administration (VA) Hospitals in Birmingham, CA, Framingham, MA, and the Corona Naval Station, CA post World-War II in 1945-1946. Initially, the veterans at the Birmingham VA hospital competed against the medical staff, but traveled to the Corona Naval Station in 1947 to compete in the first game between two wheelchair basketball teams. Over the next couple years, six teams formed across the country representing various VA hospitals, and in 1948 the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) and the first NWBA Tournament were assembled. Time Nugent, lead the way to form the NWBA and went on to become a Hall-of Fame inductee. At the same time, Sir Ludwig Guttmann, organized a very similar sport called wheelchair netball at the Spinal Rehabilitation Hospital in Stoke Mandeville, Great Britain.
By 1960, wheelchair basketball had immensely grown in popularity, and was included as one of the 8 sports in the Inaugural Paralympic Games held in Rome, Italy. Wheelchair basketball for women began to rise in the 1960’s, and would officially become its own NWBA division in 1977 after a proposal submitted by Hall-of-Famer, Bob Szyman. Today, the NWBA has grown to an amazing 200 plus teams in its five divisions: Championship Division, Women’s Division, Division III, College Division, and Junior Division. The sport now has an amazing international involvement from hundreds of teams from various continents, governed by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF).
The game itself is played on a regulation basketball court with all of the same dimensions, scoring lines, and hoop heights. The player is allowed two pushes between dribbles while the ball is in their lap or hands, and this can be repeated as many times as they would like. It is called a travel if more than two pushes occur without dribbling. According to the IWBF, a foul is, “An infraction of the rules concerning illegal personal contact with an opponent – the wheelchair is considered a part of the player.” This year, the National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament will be from April 12-15, in Louisville Kentucky.
I am excited for the opportunity to participate in this sport, and thankful to the Students for Disability Advocacy – University of Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Steelwheelers for putting on this great event.
-Jim Tersak, SPT, CSCS
“History.” National Wheelchair Basketball Association, www.nwba.org/.
“Wheelchair Basketball.” British Paralympic Association, paralympics.org.uk/paralympicsports/wheelchair-basketball.