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Breaking Barriers in Sports: Is Oscar Pistorius Second to Jackie Robinson?

by Chuck Carroll
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Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius of South Africa. (credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Holden & Danny Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier
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It has been 66 years since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

It remains the biggest single-barrier ever broken in professional sports. It’s undeniable.

Robinson putting on the Brooklyn Dodgers uniform triggered a domino effect that continues to this day. His presence in baseball has shattered all notions that barriers are unbreakable and his impact is felt far beyond race.

It begs the question, what is the second biggest barrier ever to have been broken in sports?

Holden Kushner believes Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee below the knee, running in the last Olympics fits the bill. Before becoming embattled in a Valentine’s Day murder scandal of his supermodel girlfriend, Pistorius endeared himself to not only his native South Africa, but a global audience by defying something once thought impossible — not unlike an African-American playing professional baseball before Robinson.

“Who was saying that a guy born without half of his legs was ever going to compete in the Olympics?” Kushner asked while acknowledging the turmoil currently surrounding the sprinter. “You want to talk about a barrier… Anybody that can’t walk, anybody without arms or anybody without legs, without limbs… competing in the Olympics.”

And while part of Pistorius’ amazing feat can partially be chalked up to an advancement in medicine, his sheer drive and determination carried him the majority of the way.

“The other part of that is a guy is a handicap that decided to fight it and overcome it,” Kushner said.

Danny Rouhier suggested pitcher Jim Abbott should be included in the conversation. With one hand, Abbott managed a 4.25 ERA over a Major League career that spanned from 1989 to 1999.

Before playing professionally, Abbott hit over .500 while in high school.

Also mentioned by callers

  • Danica Patrick in Daytona 500
  • Bobby Mitchell becoming first African-American player on the Washington Redskins
  • First male athlete to come out of the closet in major U.S. sports (yet to come)

What comes to your mind?

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