James M. Mitsos


The United States is a nation portrayed to promote equal opportunity for all. However, despite the public’s general concern over race and gender opportunities, it often overlooks opportunities for Americans with disabilities. Congress passed the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehab Act) to ensure equal rights for Americans with disabilities. Later, in 1990, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in what appeared to be a conscious effort to finally achieve equality. Yet, nearly a half-century after the passage of the Rehab Act, there are approximately 21 postsecondary institutions offering athletics to athletes with disabilities-also known as adaptive athletes. This minuscule number is insufficient to sustain the growing population of adaptive athletes and hinders their access to the benefits associated with athletic participation. This Comment analyzes the effectiveness of the Rehab Act and ADA in increasing access to athletic opportunity at the postsecondary level, with comparisons made to Title IX. The Rehab Act and Title IX—both established by the same governing body with similar intentions of protecting an underrepresented population—have not been equally effective over a similar period. While Title IX has drastically improved athletic opportunities for women, the Rehab Act has not been so successful. Ultimately, this Comment recommends the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights releases a regulation requiring a more rigorous interpretation of the Rehab Act. Such an interpretation would require postsecondary institutions to support their population of adaptive athletes fully and effectively. This Comment also recommends an expansion to integrated athletics. This expansion would allow adaptive athletes and able-bodied athletes to participate in the same adapted sports. Incorporating integrated athletics at the collegiate level would help eliminate the segregation of athletes and support the overall growth of adapted sports programs.



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