Everything You've Always Wanted To Know About Visually Impaired Classification

Everything You've Always Wanted To Know About Visually Impaired Classification

Did you know Paralympic athletes get tested on how blind they are?

I am currently sitting on a plane traveling from Hanover à the Netherlands for the weekend. I left today (Saturday) and will be back on campus on Monday afternoon just in time to start studying for my finals. I know this sounds irrational and you’re right, it is. but if I don’t go on this trip I can’t ski this season, because every Paralympic athlete needs to get something called a classification. Classifying is a way of basically ranking every disability to make varying degrees of these disabilities comparable. Classification is the reason I (someone who is legally blind but can see some things) can ski against someone who is totally blind and it can be deemed fair. Essentially I am flying to the Netherlands so that I can be reassured for the 10,000th time that yes, indeed, I am still blind and no my vision has not gotten better or worse in the last three years. However, unlike myself, many of my competitors do have degenerative vision lose. For them, classification is incredibly important because their vision gets worse over time, and therefore their classification can often change.

Visually impaired classification is broken down into three categories; B1, B2, and B3. B1 athletes are totally blind and compete wearing completely blacked out goggles. B2 skiers are slightly more sighted than B1 athletes, and B3 skiers are the most sighted of the visually impaired athletes. Each division has different factors, which basically refers to a percent of the actual time it takes the athlete to ski the race. B1 athletes who have the least amount of vision might, for example, have a factor of 0.55 for some races, meaning only 55% of that athlete’s raw time is considered. On the other hand, a B3 may have a factor of around 0.85 meaning 85% of that athlete’s time is considered. The difference in factors is what makes the times between the two athletes comparable and ideally competitive.

Visually impaired classification can get a bit controversial because, unlike some of the other disabilities, eye sight isn’t quite as straight forward. For instance, it’s pretty easy to look at an amputee and know whether he is missing his leg above or below the knee. It is a little more difficult to evaluate someone who is legally blind and determine just how much that person can actually see. Vision conditions are so diverse but in order for classification to work an arbitrary line must be drawn to categorize visual impairments. Consequently, it is impossible to make everyone happy even though the system is designed to help.

There are plenty of athletes, including myself that fall unfortunately close to that arbitrary cut off line between classes. There are a wide range of vision disorders in each category, and while being at the lower end of one may be portrayed as a disadvantage, I like to think of it as a challenge to be the best athlete I can be. Classification is something every Paralympic athlete knows well, and while it will never be perfect, it is necessary and a crucial part of Paralympic sport.

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If You Wear XL T-Shirts And Shorts, You're The Woman Of My Dreams

Enough with the war on comfort!

Comfortable can be sexy, simply put.

For some reason there are people complaining out there about the Southern college trend that has been happening the past few years: big t-shirts and shorts, also known as the "srat uniform." There seems to be a clash between the girls who dress "nice" most of the time and girls who dress for comfort. As a guy, I don't see what the big deal is?

For college in the South, there are two reasons to dress up: college football (Roll Tide) and date parties. Any other time, you can find a majority of the female population in shorts and a big t-shirt that makes it look like they're not wearing pants. As a man, I personally don't see anything wrong with this. I love being comfortable as much as the next person, and most guys find the baggy t-shirt and shorts outfit to be cute. There's always a time and place for dresses and rompers.

But for all the haters out there that call these girls in XL t-shirts and shorts lazy, you've got it all wrong.

There are 4 reasons why the girls who don the "srat uniform" have it all figured out.

1. Girls have it rough.

See, it's tough being a girl. I don't know from experience, but I hear it enough and I've seen it enough to know it's true. When girls aren't dealing with f***boys, periods or having to do their hair and makeup routinely, they are being overly criticized by our society. I think society owes girls a break, and that break comes in the comfortable baggy t-shirt and shorts.

2. Southern Not-So-Comfort(able) weather.

Also, for all of the haters, maybe y'all haven't noticed that it's hotter than Satan's balls in the South! Tight, dressy outfits and pants constrict the body and cause you to sweat. I'd rather see a dry girl in a baggy t-shirt than a girl drenched in sweat trying to look cute with her outfit.

3. Perfect doesn't exist.

It's admirable when a girl can unapologetically be herself. A girl in an XL t-shirt and shorts is a girl that is saying "yes, I may have just rolled out of bed and brushed my hair, but I'm here dammit." Social media tells us we all have to be the dolled up, most "perfect" version of ourselves all the time, so it's nice to experience that reality check.

4. Guys think it's cute, regardless.

9 times out of 10, guys in college do not care what you're wearing. Trust me, we aren't doing much better. You could probably put on a garbage bag and we still think you're cute. Any guy that dates a girl that dates a girl only because she dresses nicely all of the time is a shallow man. You're cute, you're comfortable, and that makes for a much better vibe. We all win.

So, in the battle of dressing "nice" and dressing comfortable, I think that the girls who wear an XL t-shirt and shorts chalk up a win in my record book. No, I'm not bashing on girls who have a true sense of style and wear nice clothing... that's a great thing in itself! But, this is college and there are more important things to focus on besides what we're wearing.

Ladies, wear your srat uniform with pride. Some us think it's cute :)

*I want to thank the beautiful ladies at the University of Alabama for inspiring this article.*

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Does Leaving A Franchise Make An Athlete A Villain?

After an NFL Free-Agency that say many players leave their teams and an NBA season with a lot of moves, it's to to really ask this.

Loyalty: 1. the quality of being loyal to someone or something. 2. a strong feeling of support or allegiance.

Betrayal: 1. the action of betraying one's country, a group, or a person; treachery.

Traitor: 1. a person who betrays a friend, country, principle, etc.

I think it's important to remember exactly what these words mean before I start this article.

In sports, there are three ways to leave a team: free agency, trade/cut, and retirement.

Those first two are going to be the main focus here.

When players leave a franchise via free agency, they are considered disloyal, people say they betrayed their team, and they get labeled a snake or a traitor. When a franchise trades away or cuts a player, it was done to improve the team, the player wouldn't take a pay cut, or they were a "locker room" problem. Basically, if a player choose to leave, they are a villain, but if a franchise gets rid of a player, it was best for business.

If you don't see at least a small problem with that, then you are part of the reason I decided to write this article.

Let me give you two examples, one that is sports related and one that is a bit more of a real-world example.

Tom Brady, yes the Patriots quarterback, is one of the most underpaid players in the league, and that is being generous. He is one of the greatest NFL players of all-time but was paid BELOW the league average for starting quarterbacks. Brady did this because he is loyal to the Patriots and wanted championships, but now that he is forty, he is getting closer to market value which is also starting to cause problems for the Patriots dynasty, i.e. they don't have a backup QB or much depth on the team.

The end of the Patriots dynasty is on the horizon, not just because of Brady's age, but the fact that he is going to want finally be getting paid a fair wage.

In a more real-world example for why the current mentality toward loyalty is a problem, think about any job you ever had. Now imagine if that job wanted to pay you below market value. Would you be a Tom Brady and take less than what you deserve because you would have the opportunity to be a part of a successful business, or would you actually want to get paid what you deserve?

If the options are $12 per hour at, I don't know, Panera, or $20 per hour plus tips at a steakhouse, which one are you taking? Money isn't everything, but are you really going to take that kind of pay-cut for a job? The problem is that, when it comes to sports, having that mentality makes you a villain.

The modern age has made money the most important thing to being considered successful. Yet we hold athletes to a different standard when it comes to going after money, rather than staying loyal to the franchise that drafted or signed them. Then those very same franchises do not have to have the same level of loyalty towards their players.

The next time one of your favorite players chooses to leave your favorite franchise, remember that they were just doing what they thought was best for them. It's not about loyalty, or betrayal, or being a traitor, but it's about doing what they had to do. Having them no longer with you team sucks, but if you really like the player, then you should be happy for them because they got to make the choice rather than the franchise making it for them.

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