Wheelchair Basketball

Article excerpt

To some sports enthusiasts, the sound made by "nothing but net!" is the sweetest sound around. The game of basketball is 100 hundred years old, but did you know that wheelchair basketball has been around for more than 50 years? The National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) was started by Tim Nugent at the University of Illinois in 1948.

The NWBA has three divisions and supports National Championships in each division. In the `96-`97 season, there were over 160 Men's teams, ten Women's teams and 20 Junior Teams.

Playing the game

The way wheelchair basketball is played is very similar to that of the stand-up game. A potential player does not have to be a permanent wheelchair user, but the rules state that the game must be played from a wheelchair. For example, a player can have a lower-limb amputation or cerebral palsy and, though able to walk, still be eligible. Unfortunately, people using power wheelchairs are not currently eligible.

The fundamental rules are those used by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), but some are different in the wheelchair version.

* There is no such thing as a "double dribble." The dribbling rule is: a player may push his or her wheels twice in a row and then must bounce (dribble) the ball at least once. Players may then put the ball in their lap, take two more pushes and repeat the procedure. As players improve, they eventually learn how to dribble and push their chairs at the same time.

* In wheelchair ball, standing up is against the rules. This is because some people who play the game can stand while others cannot; so, to be fair, it is illegal for anyone to stand.

* Because the chair is considered . part of the body in wheelchair basketball, it is illegal to grab another player's wheelchair. However, accidental contact is allowed; as long as neither person gains an advantage because of the contact.

* A player is allowed four seconds in the lane rather than the three seconds specified by the NCAA rules.

There are other minor variations but, fundamentally, the game is played very much like high school and college games.

Teamwork

Many coaches believe that wheelchair basketball is a "purer" form of basketball than the one that the stand-up game has become. …