Trigger Warning: Ableism, Inspiration porn.
(I don't like the word inspiration porn. It insults actual porn. But that's the word I'm looking for...)
I get that people were trying to be nice. Really. But... not OK. This video is not as nice as you think it is.
It squicks me.
Everyone is sharing this around again, and talking about how sweet it is, and how inspirational. And you know what? Everyone was trying to be nice. They were. And they patronized the team manager in the process. They probably patronized him every game, but I don't know that for sure, I don't have video of that.
I could get into all kinds of theory, but I shouldn't need to:
I am developmentally disabled. I'm no better at basketball than the manager. No, really. If you had put me out on the court, I would have missed. Every shot. And I would be pissed if someone did that to me.
I played sports all through high school. I ran cross country. I was, for four years, the slowest person on the team. I was only able to stay on the team at all because it was non-cut. And I was the slowest by quite a large margin, too. The girls whose times were counting were running their 5k in 19 minutes and less. In four years, I never ran my 5k under half an hour. My mile time? Right around 10 minutes. Four years of cross country, and I am a worse than average runner looking at the general population.
But people insisted that I was doing a great job. I did no such thing. All I did was be too stubborn to quit, because that's what I do. And if I had been praised for that, everything would have been fine. Because it was for something good I actually did.
It wasn't about my stubbornness. It was about how I was doing such a good job running. Yeah, no. I wasn't. I was doing a pretty fail job running.
I've been in that position.
In spring track (I got cut from softball,) they generally had me run the 800. There is a reason they had me run the 800. They put me in the mile exactly once. I got lapped. By everyone. Yes, everyone. One kid was about 10 yards short of double-lapping me in a four lap race. And they didn't let me finish, because there were other events to have. Not being allowed to finish was mortifying, I won't deny it. But the stuff I took on a daily basis about how great a job I was doing because I was too stubborn to just quit already? That was worse. The time they didn't let me finish, I was embarrassed, and that was pretty much it. The times that people were patronizing, I was embarrassed, angry, and expected to be grateful for it. And no one listened when I told them I wasn't. They kept lying to my face about how great a job I was doing.
It left scars.
I have trouble believing the praise I get from anyone, ever, still. Because what if it means that I'm not actually doing well and they're pulling the same thing as they did in high school? They only do that when you're so bad at it you're not even seen as really being competition. Am I really that bad at it? Or am I actually doing well? I thought I was actually doing a good job, and then someone praises me and suddenly I'm not so sure.
It doesn't help that people still do this to me.
You might wonder how they can. Well, there are drills we do at practice in Ultimate where yes, my motor issues come out so obviously that I really do look like the obviously developmentally disabled kid they're letting practice with them to be nice. But the coach tells me I'm doing great. The captains tell me I'm doing great. As I pick myself up off the ground because I couldn't even figure out how to keep my feet under me while failing to do the drill properly and the entire rest of the team, while tired, has done it 30 times correctly and I've messed it up five times, falling over from three of them. Yeah, not doing great. If you want to praise my stubbornness, go ahead, but don't tell me I'm doing a great job just in general, because I'm not. And I know it. And that is why I have trouble believing even genuine praise, now. That is why I have social anxiety. Because people lied to my face and kept doing so as I called them on it and wouldn't even admit to the fact they were doing it and expected me to be grateful for it, at that.
Actually playing, I'm not that bad. I'm not great, probably not even average, but I'm passable. I'm actually good enough at the stuff we do in a real game that it's worth keeping me on the team, especially since we often wind up playing with only one or two subs, but from practice, you wouldn't know it. And at practice, they do it. Still.
And they insist that I'm just being hard on myself and I'm really doing a great job.
I'm aware of what's going on around me, folks. Don't patronize me. And don't patronize other disabled people. Even if that manager did want to be put in (I could believe it,) the way the member of the opposing team acted was still well-intentioned patronization and the way the video was made can't even be given the "well-intentioned" qualification. It was just patronizing, plain and simple. How much of the video was other people talking about how wonderful it was, compared to how much was the manager actually talking? Wonder why?