Inclusion Daily Express
Thursday, April 27, 2006
  J-Mac scores movie deal
Inclusion Daily Express

April 25, 2006

Basketball enthusiast Jason McElwain, 17, is getting a lot of attention -- from President Bush to Magic Johnson to Oprah Winfrey -- and now a movie deal. It makes a heart-warming story that the high school basketball team manager with autism broke school records by sinking six 3-pointers in the final few minutes of the final game of the regular season -- after being kept out for the entire season.

I think it's great that he is being seen as a valuable member of his team and school.

But, while he's being praised for his "superstar" performance, I worry for him. I worry that he is being exploited by everyone from Bush to Magic to Oprah and Columbia Pictures. I worry about the way the media is portraying him to get their latest "feel good" story instead of showing him as the rather ordinary teenager I assume he is.

I worry that people will get the wrong impression about people who have autism and other similar disabilities -- that they are, or should be, superhuman or savants.

Being drowned out by all the hoopla are a few unspoken questions: Why wasn't Jason allowed to be on the team from the beginning of the season? Why did his coach wait until his team was far ahead to allow J-Mac on the court?

It will be interesting to see if the movie includes answers to those questions, and also addresses the fact that the opposing team was asked to go easy on him -- something the "feel good" reporters have omitted.

Dave Reynolds, Editor
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