Friday, 30 January 2015 17:54

Who Are the Athletes in Adaptive Sports? We Want to Know! Introducing the Adaptive Sports Athlete Index, a Net Impact and UCLA Anderson Research Project

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Adaptive Sports defines a wide range of sports and activities where the rules, field of play, and/or equipment has been modified or adapted for people with disabilities. This includes wheelchair sports like Tennis, Basketball, Quad Rugby and Power Soccer; sports for the visually impaired such as Goalball, Judo and Beep Baseball; and sports for amputees like Endurance Racing, Track & Field, Softball and dozens of others. Studies have shown people with disabilities who regularly participate in sports programs receive significant physical, psychological and social benefits, and achieve a higher rate of academic and long-term career success.* Nonprofit Adaptive Sports programs serve people with a wide range of disabilities including the “Wounded Warrior” population of service men and women who have been injured in the line of duty.

A vast majority of Adaptive Sports programs operate as nonprofit orgs and they often need a facility to host their sports (gym, athletic fields, swimming pool, etc.) that is fully accessible, as well as Adaptive Sports equipment such as wheelchairs specifically designed for Racing, Basketball, Tennis or Rugby; equipment designed exclusively for sports such as Beep Baseball or Power Soccer; sit-skis and mono-skis used for Winter Sports; and some athletes use prosthesis specifically for Running, Track & Field, or Water Sports. Adaptive Sports equipment is commonly customized based on an individual's body shape and disability, and as such can be very expensive. In addition, coaches need specific training to work in Adaptive Sports programs. All of these factors combine to make running a nonprofit sports program for people with disabilities a cost and resource intensive venture. By creating better long term relationships with corporate partners, these programs can receive a greater amount of the funding and resources needed to operate.

If you run an Adaptive Sports program we would love to have you involved! Your participation in this two-part study will allow us to aggregate data from various national/regional Adaptive Sports organizations in order to provide your organization with compelling reports you can use in your funding outreach.

Below is a link to our organization-based survey which aims to map the national landscape of nonprofits serving adaptive sports and aggregate baseline demographics for adaptive sports athletes. At this stage of the project, we're seeking general information to start the research process. The survey requests information about basic figures, including the number of athletes your organization serves and their gender and age distribution - no personal information or proprietary data is being requested at all. The survey should take a maximum of 10 minutes to complete. The first phase of this research is on a very tight time frame, and we would like as many organizations as possible to please complete the survey by Wednesday, February 4, 2015.

An athlete-centered questionnaire will also be available by March 2015 for distribution to your athletes to create a detailed consumer profile that will provide a valuable snapshot of the adaptive sports community to attract brands and corporate sponsors. Data will be collected over a 12-month period, following various adaptive sports events during different seasons, with final reports made available to all in early 2016.


Image credit: Australian Paralympic Committee (creative commons)

If you cannot complete the organization survey by February 4th, please consider sending what basic demographic data you do have to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that we can begin to build a baseline market profile of the adaptive sports community. You can still then complete the survey at a later date. If you have any questions or concerns about the survey or the overall project, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

My goal with this research study is to shift the conversation with brands and corporate partners from identifying these programs as “charity” to embracing them as sports marketing partners. Sports create an inclusive platform for people with disabilities and with the proper data to support how impactful this category really is, I believe we can change the mindset in both corporate America and with the broader public to create a more inclusive society.

If you run an adaptive sports program and would like to participate in any phase of this research study, please contact me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please complete this survey by Wednesday, February 4, 2015. And feel free to forward to other adaptive sports organizations that might want to participate. Thank you!

Click here to start the survey:

* Harris Interactive, "Sports and Employment among Americans with Disabilities" , 2009
Image credit: Australian Paralympic Committee (creative commons)

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