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Issue #48

Are We Missing Out?

John Loeppky

April 2, 2024

A basketball hoop, superimposed against a night sky is placed so that a yellow moon appears to be on the edge of falling through the net.
Goodnight sun, goodnight moon, goodnight wheelchair basketball-related gloom/Anja from Pixabay

FOMO To the Max

It is the season of Paralympic qualification. Recently, the American wheelchair basketball teams were named, the Canadian wheelchair rugby team qualified at a tournament in New Zealand, and a host of other squads are booking their tickets to Paris. 

As a para-sport reporter, this is a fun time of year. I get to see people I know achieve their dreams. I get to write more about the world of parasport. And, I get to think even more about how para-sport impacts my view of productivity. Disabled sport—using whatever title you want to use—has a bit of a contradictory relationship with productivity. I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school when I say that elite para-sport environments still struggle with how to square the circle between the demands of an international sporting stage and the values demanded by disabled people who make up those spaces. I’m lucky that I get to see all sides of this challenge. Whether that’s covering the recent Canadian wheelchair curling championships for CBC, or a scandal in American wheelchair basketball, like I got to do two years ago for Defector. Like much of disability culture, it’s a complicated and important thing to navigate.

But how does my time in para-sport—I always say I got to go to a bunch of cool stuff and not anything important—impact my productivity? Well, for starters, it helps with my focus and what little trust I have in my body and my mind. I can’t help but feel as if  the sports psychology version of visualization, which I used to do while envisioning my shots going in the basket, has now ported itself over to how I my brain chooses to work on articles in the background while I’m doing the dishes or, like yesterday, reorganizing an office space.

When I worked full-time as a theatre artist and arts administrator, the same thing would happen. When I need to memorize a script, I record it to my computer and then play it back on repeat as I do something mindless. In my case, playing video games. That’s a skill or a process far more valuable to me now than any of the medals I won. Knowing that things will slot into place if I give my brain enough fallow time is something that I certainly gathered from my time in wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.

Sport has also given me a better sense of why a particular movement is happening, or why a particular brain process is occurring. Looking back on my career, alongside unpacking internalized ableism and lamenting not being able to compete for a spot on the national team, affords me the opportunity to identify—in really clear terms—when my anxiety used to get in the way of my performance. I used to sit beside the coaches, straining to hear whether they liked me or not. That I had an undiagnosed anxiety and panic disorder should surprise no one.

In fact, I used to look back at my career with disdain. I stopped being able to compete at a high level at about age 20 after an injury. I had to put my sports chair in a place where I couldn’t see it in my garage. I hid my medals away. I didn’t want to be reminded of that past life. Sometimes, admittedly, I still don’t.

But, on the good days, it’s fuel for the productivity fire. The adage, “You’ve done hard physical things before” rings true when I drag myself out of bed and remember the times we used to practice three times a day. When I feel like the business is falling apart, I can remind myself that I used to put all of my hopes and dreams into being a professional athlete and that this dream is both far more attainable and sustainable than that. I can look back at those days and realize, with pride, that I’m still involved. And that, in an ideal world, my reporting can make a difference—from a solutions journalism point of view.

All easy for me to say, but hey, I’m feeling optimistic today. As for today’s question: What past experiences do you pull from when it comes to managing your productivity?

Until tomorrow!


Want to Support More Disability-led Writing?

I've decided to shift CRPL to a 5 times a week newsletter about productivity as I am fascinated by the topic, am in the early stage of writing a book about it, and want to have a place to think, and write, and create work about this vital area of thinking. Click below to join the daily newsletter and/or to help financially support this project.