Historically, people with disabilities have been a socially and economically disadvantaged segment of society. Researchers even coined the term ‘‘Disability Ghetto’’ to describe this marginalization, manifested in discrimination and socio-cultural limitations, and further perpetuated by a lower rate of employment among individuals with disabilities. While employment on its own has its obvious advantages, financial and otherwise, interestingly, separate studies have found that both adaptive sport and employment have provided large quality of life benefits to people with disabilities. No rehabilitation is complete till a person is employed or is financially independent but it has been observed that participating in adaptive sports increase chances of employment due to various reasons.
Studies have found a positive relationship between athletic participation and labour market outcomes for the able bodied population, and suggest many potential mechanisms whereby athletics lead to higher educational attainment, employment and/or wages. First, increased physical fitness levels could directly translate to increased productivity for those individuals. Second, sports provide social networking opportunities, especially for those with smaller social networks, such as people from rural background or tribal areas. Third, athletic participation may signal to employers that the individual is motivated and in good health, making them more appealing and competitive candidates in the job market. Similarly, Sport can benefit almost every aspect of the life of a person with a disability. The benefits include but are not limited to increased self-esteem, strength and endurance, social integration, physical independence and life satisfaction.
Though adaptive sports has gained quite a momentum in developed nations, in developing nations like India barriers to playing adaptive sport can be daunting. Adaptive sport participation is limited by obstacles, such as a lack of accessibility in sport facilities, dislike of sports commonly associated with disability, physical dependence making practice difficult and limited time and money. The costs associated with adaptive sports include specialized wheelchairs and travel to compete against other teams. Athletes also incur at least some expenses out of pocket. Proper funding for adaptive sport programs could alleviate many of these barriers. Increased participation in adaptive sport would provide benefits at the individual level as well as the societal level. To give a sense of the potential aggregate economic impact of regular participation in adaptive sports, if an additional 100000 individuals were to play adaptive sports for only one year, we estimate that approximately 3000 of them would become employed.