The other day our unicycle club played a game of basketball against a local wheelchair team. We played four quarters and the final score was 30 to 36, the wheelchair team takeing the win. Next to down hill muni this was the most fun I’ve ever had on a unicycle. The play was fast and felt well matched and every one seemed to have a good time. Some of our better riders could pick the ball up off the floor on the move, some thing the other team was not expecting.
I would play wheelchair/unicycle basket ball again in a heartbeat and highly recomend it to others.
I’ll try and post some photos later.
I’ve played a lot of unicycle basketball, and watched some wheelchair basketball, and I’d have to say that I don’t think a wheelchair team should be able to beat a good unicycle team. The wheelchairs will have great difficulty defending passes or shots, and the unicycles are far more manuverable. Against an inexperienced team, the wheelchairs will have a shooting advantage, but I think that effect would disappear or at least be greatly reduced against a strong team.
Our basketball uni association in Paris plays sometimes with wheelchairs, at least twice a year.
The first time I’ve played, in 1999, I was afraid about falling on the wheelchair guys… And realized quickly they didn’t care and rushed at me if they needed in order to get the ball
AT the beginning, we used to play unicycles against wheelchairs, and because, as you said, Tholub, wheelchairs had difficulties defending passes or shots, we used to win.
Now our friends in wheelchairs are very good (but I can’t say we are inexperienced, our team play almost every week), some of them are part of the French basketball wheelchair team that goes to the Paralympic Games! So we decided to mix the teams and we have lots of fun.
Our association has a rolling basket we use during parade, like that one, the Defistival which goal is to promote the meeting between handicaped persons and the general public.
Not many unis on the pic but I’m on the right, the uni in my hands
How nice to find a sport where people with a very unusual [I]ability/I can play on equal terms with people in wheelchairs. That a unicycle team can play against a wheelchair team is great. That someone should immediately think of mixing the teams is even better. Not all people in wheelchairs are helpless, as is shown by the people who do marathons in them and beat thousands of runners in the process.
A friend of mine has a degenerative disease, and is now barely able to operate an electric wheelchair. His disease makes him unable to speak, and he can only communicate with nods of the head, grins, and by typing laboriously into a communicator machine. He will die in the next few years as his organs shut down.
I can remember when he was much younger, he could beat all of us at armwrestling because he went everywhere on elbow crutches. A year or three ago, when he was a little more able, I raced him around a campsite - he in his electric wheelchair, me in his manual wheelchair. He won when I capsized in a rut. His hysterical laughter is a cherished memory.
I forgot to say :
It is much easier for the wheelchairs to pick up the ball on the floor and I’m not sure the unis are more manuverable : we are not as stable as they are and the handicaped are really at ease in their wheelchairs, they don’t use those just for fun (even if some of them can walk, and some are not even handicaped, they just like to play in wheelchairs with the handicaped persons).
I don’t really know who should beat the other ones but anyway it is much better to mix the teams.
The folks in the chairs have to dribble the ball after every two pushes. The rules were the same as basket ball played on foot, except that if some one fell out of a chair or off a uni they were out of play untill they got back on there ride.
The final score was actually 38 to 30 - they schooled us but not so badly that we were embarrassed. Now that we know the rules we’ll have to work on our scoring percentage per shots fired. We also have to work on defence, defence, defence. The wheelchairs ripped back their own end and were sitting there waiting for us after every one of their goals!
I’ve spoken with the Ottawa-Carleton Wheelchair Sport Association (OCWSA) organizers and we’ll be playing again in 2006. I’m sure now that we’ve shown the way lots of other unicycle-wheelchair exhibition games will be popping up around the country. We are working on the video of the game and as soon as it’s ready we’ll post it. The OCWSA would also like us to play against them in a 10 minute exhibition game during the half-time show at the Harlem Globetrotters game at the Corel Centre in April.
Just a note - it is possible to ride a unicycle on stilts and we have the video to prove it. Sadly, I didn’t have the skill level to stilt unicycle ride myself (three attempts - zero successful) but Devon and Thomas are both on record for having ridden my custom made six foot high (12" tire) uni while wearing my stilts - amazing!
Now look what you’ve done! I’ll have to call Marc the Welder to have him put big wheels on two basketball nets so we can drag them through the city for parades. I’ll have him work out a way to collapse them so we can stuff them in the van after we’re done. It’ll cost me a bundle but think of the fun we’ll have playing street unicycle-wheelchair basketball.
Marcy says she went easy on us in the game and that in the re-match the kid gloves come off and you better be wearing a cup.
Wheelchairs have a number of manuverability problems. For example, turning requires you to use one hand; turning sharply requires you to use two. So you can’t ever shoot reliably while you’re turning, and you can’t turn sharply while handling the ball at all. Think about the circle inscribed by the outside wheel when a moving wheelchair user turns by stopping his inner wheel; the radius is the width of the wheel base, so the circle is something like two meters in diameter. That’s an enormous turn compared to what a unicycle is capable of. Wheelchairs may be able to accelerate and decelerate faster than unicycles when the wheelchair user is not handling the ball, but when handling the ball the unicycle has a clear advantage.
Neither steed can move laterally, but a unicycle with its tight turning radius can simulate lateral movement (critical on defense) much more easily than a wheelchair.
And finally, the height advantage alone would be almost impossible to overcome. I don’t see any way the wheelchairs could even attempt to defend against unicycles playing keep-away with the ball; the unicyclists sit half a meter higher, and wheelchairs can’t jump. The unicycles will get almost all contested rebounds, will be in position to block most shots, and will have a clean look at the basket every time. Shortness will get the wheelchairs some steals off the dribble, and loose balls, but I don’t see how that could overcome the disadvantages.
Again, that’s assuming an experienced unicycle team. It takes most people quite a while to be able to shoot reliably on a unicycle, and many unicyclists spend a lot of time off their unicycle when they’re playing uniBB. But if I were to take the top 5 players from the Berkeley group and give them 10 minutes of coaching, I think we’d beat a top wheelchair team every time.
Mixing the teams sounds fun and competitive; I’m sure there would be interesting strategies and tactics. I could see pressure defense involving one wheelchair and one unicycle attacking the ball; the wheelchair takes up a lot of space and blocks the low passes, while the unicycle can apply pressure and block the high passes.
I have seen wheelchair basketball at halftime at Cal games, so I think there may be a group around here we could try to hook up with.
I think the mixed teams is best. I agree with Tom ont he maneuverability and height issues. However, a mixed team could likely remove many of these problems… And hey, we could be wrong. Until two expert teams meet, I don’t see any reason to make presumptions.
As for stilted unicycles… This isn’t a first. There was a unicyclist at Camp Winnarainbow who rode a girraffe of sorts while on 32" stilts. He made it quite a ways, but eventually fell, shattering a kneecap. He was the first, and until the just now, the last unicyclist I had ever heard of who attempted this. I don’t see it as being all that difficult, except for the weaker leverage afforded to the rider.