This article by USA Today Sports High School Sports talks of elite high school runner Michael Brannigan, a rising senior with autism.
The first thing I noticed is that our attention is caught by this article by the fact that this boy has autism. As a future special education teacher, I’ve learned to recognize, and hate, the stigmas that go along with these disabilities. So I was disappointed by the title, but once I got to the end of the article, it made sense.
Michael won the 2 mile at New Balance Nationals with a time of 8:53. Obviously, he has great talent. The article goes on to talk about Michael’s great accomplishments and dedication to his training.
But it’s the end of the article that really catches your attention. Michael would like to run for a Division 1 institution, but the NCAA has academic requirements for Division 1 athletes. With a disability. Michael has had a hard time reaching these requirements. And this is where the title comes into play.
Everyone should have equal opportunity. Michael’s parents say they want to petition NCAA, which is a smart decision. This boy has no control over his disability, and as the quote stated by his mother perfectly sums it up:
“Here’s a kid who has talent, dedication, and drive. He’s earned the right to run against the best college runners in the country. Why can’t he have the opportunity?”