While I know soccer news doesn’t usually move the needle in some parts of the world and I steer clear of making this site a sports ticker, there was a story earlier this month that caught my attention. According to FIFA, the international governing body of international football, in order to comply with Brazilian legislation, during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, every stadium will be required to have special seating available for the obese. While it’s still unknown exactly how many seats will be modified, the World Cup Bill in Brazil requires that at least 1 percent of seats be made available for disabled people – a category that includes the obese, wheelchair users and those with limited mobility. Fans interested in the special accommodations, will be required to submit medical certification that proves they have a body mass index greater than 30.
I’m not shy about sharing my feelings about those who choose to label obesity as a disease. I don’t sugarcoat my feelings about the impact of excuses. I refuse to be part of the swarms of people who like to condescendingly pat fat people on the head and tell them it’s not their fault. I didn’t do it when I was 426 pounds and I won’t do it now. Including obesity in the category of disability is not only offensive to the people in the world who struggle with one of the thousands of conditions that is completely outside of their control, but, more importantly, providing special seating only shifts expectations and does nothing to help those who are struggling with their weight.
Lowering the bar never got anyone closer to the goal.
I lived those moments. I had restaurants that I had to stop going to because I didn’t fit in the booth. There were amusement park rides I couldn’t ride because the shoulder harness didn’t go down far enough. I passed on adventures because I exceeded the weight limit. I couldn’t even ride a bike because they just weren’t strong enough to support me. Those moments are impactful. I know it’s not a popular stance, but there is real power in failure. In the “participation trophy” era that we live in today, I know people don’t want to talk about losing. I know people don’t want to talk about learning a lesson from shame or embarrassment. But, instead of letting that reality impact people, we just lower the bar. We address the result and completely ignore the cause.
So what is the answer? I’m not sure it’s ours to give. That’s the whole point really. You will never help someone find the answer if your solution is to simply make the test easier or, in many cases, not test them at all. Change is made through a combination of need and desire. If you want it bad enough, you’ll do the work. If you need it bad enough, you’ll make the change.
There’s no victory in forfeit. It’s OK if everyone can’t get over the first time. And while those who keep trying aren’t guaranteed success, those who aren’t asked to try are guaranteed failure. Stop lowering the bar.