What is Classification?
Classification provides a structure for fair competition. It is important to note that the competitive structure provided by Classification systems is not only important for elite sport but also is essential for promoting grassroots participation in Para-sports by people with an impairment.
In order to ensure that competition in sport is fair and equal, it is necessary to put a system in place that ensures that winning is determined by skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and mental focus, (the same factors that account for success in sport for athletes who are able-bodied), rather than the severity or lack of severity of the impairment that an athlete has. This system is called classification. Classification is necessary to ensure that an athlete’s impairment is relevant to sport performance and to ensure that the athlete competes on an equal basis with other athletes. This, to a certain extent, is similar to grouping athletes by age, gender or weight.
In short, classification in Para-Sport has two important roles:
- To determine eligibility to compete in a particular sport. (Having an impairment is not sufficient; its impact on participation in a particular sport discipline has to be measured. The athlete has to meet the Minimum Impairment Criteria, defined specifically for the different sport disciplines.)
- To group athletes for competition in a particular sport. (The groupings are called Sport Classes)
Classification is sport-specific because impairment affects the ability to perform in different sports to a different extent. As a consequence, an athlete may meet the criteria in one sport, but may not meet the criteria in another sport. To this end, each sport federation / discipline has its own classification rules. Classification rules in turn are integral to the rules of the sport.
Classification rules in each sport make provision for defining the eligible impairments and minimum eligibility criteria as well as the sport classes and sport class status and the set process of athlete evaluation.
To find out more about the classification systems for the different sport disciplines falling under SASAPD, you can go to the links as follows:
Introduction to IPC Classification: http://www.paralympic.org/classification
Sport specific IPC Classification: http://www.paralympic.org/classification/sport-specific