The Supercrip Athlete in Media: Model of Inspiration or Able-Bodied Hegemony?

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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  • 1 College of Public Health & Human Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA
  • | 2 Brooks College of Health, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL, USA
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Options for athletes with disabilities to participate in sport have risen and, with them, supercrip representation. Supercrip is defined as a stereotypical representation of individuals with disabilities that highlights their accomplishments as inspirational stories of defying or overcoming their disability to succeed. With little consensus on how to represent disability in sport, it is imperative that this representation be investigated. The purpose of this commentary is to broadly examine assumptions of the supercrip model as a mode of representation for athletes with disabilities, explore its connection to able-bodied hegemony, and propose next steps in facilitating research and discourse around representation for athletes with disabilities. We conclude that able-bodied hegemony is the root of the supercrip model and that participatory action research, with stakeholders at the center, is necessary to fully evaluate the supercrip model.

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