Communication, Sport and Disability: The Case of Power Soccer

About: Sports are everywhere in American society, and given their prominence in the culture, it is easy to understand how most youth in the United States face pressure to participate in organized sports. But what does this mean for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who live with one or more physical disabilities and, in particular, those in powered wheelchairs?

Located at the intersection of sports and disability, this book tells the story of power soccer – the first competitive team sport specifically designed for power wheelchair users. Beginning in France in the 1970s, today, over sixty teams compete within the United States Power Soccer Association (USPSA) and the sport is actively played in over thirty countries.

Using ethnographic research conducted while attending practices, games, and social functions of teams from across the nation, Jeffress builds a strong case that electric wheelchair users deserve more opportunity to play sports. They deserve it because they need the same physical and psychosocial benefits from participation as their peers, who have full use of their arms and legs. It challenges the social constructions and barriers that currently stand in the way. Most importantly, this book tells the story of some amazing power soccer athletes. It is a moving, first-hand account of what power soccer means to them and the implications this has for society.

Reviews: Jeffress provides a masterful integration of how specific communicative practices can offer an affirming atmosphere and a sense of belonging and normalcy to people participating in sports despite great physical limitations. – William J. Brown, Regent University, USA

In his book, Jeffress focuses on the many opportunities through participation in sport that can be enjoyed by electric wheelchair users. This book fine-tunes the journey to independence through sport. The able-bodied reader also comes away with a better understanding of how important our own empathy and support can be in improving the quality of life for those with disabilities and thus society at large. – Jeanne Murphy, Nicholls State University, USA and Chef de Mission, 2004 US Paralympic Team, Athens

Author: Michael S. Jeffress, Ph.D.

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