Start by mousing over the title below to see an explanation of classification.
Lyons, K. (n.d.). Explainer: What is “classification” at the Paralympics? Retrieved September 5, 2019, from The Conversation website: http://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-classification-at-the-paralympics-9072
Jeeson-Daniel, A. (n.d.). Explainer: What are stars? Retrieved September 5, 2019, from The Conversation website: http://theconversation.com/explainer-what-are-stars-15235
This is the title of the original article (which you should read). The word 'classification' is in the title and the title asks what it is in relation to the paralympics. So we can be fairly sure that the article will explain how classification is used to categorise events in the paralympics.
Classification means to divide into groups, or categories, which we call classes. Like enumeration (listing), classification helps us to refer to different items in the categories we create so that we can think about them separately, and discuss them.
The categories we create have characteristics which we decide upon, and we place items which have similar charateristics in a particular category.
Classification is associated with definition because we have to define our classes (what is included in each class?). You can see examples of classification in short pieces of text as in this example:
"Stars are measured in proportion to the mass and luminosity of our sun. In general, stars are classified as “dwarfs” if they are less bright than our sun, and “giants” if they are brighter." (Jeeson-Daniel, n.d.)
In this case, we only have two classes; "giants" or "dwarfs".
But many examples of classification in text are more complicated and may contain different levels - subclasses (classes within classes). The classification of plants and animals is a good example. We will examine an example concerning athletes and events in the paralympics.
"If you’re watching the Paralympics on TV, listening on radio or reading about the Games in the papers or online, you’ll notice different sports are sub-divided into separate classes.
If you’re listening to the swimming, you won’t hear about the men’s 100m freestyle – instead you might hear about the men’s 100m freestyle – S2 or the men’s 100m breaststroke – SB9.
Similarly, if you’re watching the track and field events, you won’t see the women’s 400m sprint as you would in the Olympics. Instead you might see the women’s 400m – T12 or the women’s 400m – T37.
What is classification all about?
So what does S1 mean in the context of a swimming event? And what does T12 mean in the context of a race on the track?
Quite simply, athletes are classified according to the extent of their impairment. The different classifications indicate the type and degree of disability possessed by the athletes in that particular class.
In swimming, freestyle, butterfly and backstroke events are prefixed with the letter “S” and run from S1 up to S14:
• Classes 1-10 are for athletes with a physical impairment
• Classes 11-13 are for athletes with a visual impairment
• Class 14 is for athletes with an intellectual impairment
“SB” is used to refer to breaststroke events and “SM” is used to refer to individual medley events.
If a swimmer is classified as S1, he or she will have a significant loss of muscle power or control in his or her legs, arms, hands and torso. These impairments may be caused by spinal-cord injuries or polio. A swimmer in this class usually uses a wheelchair in daily life.
A swimmer classified as S10 will be impeded far less by their impairment when competing.
In short, the lower the classification number, the greater the impact the athlete’s impairment has on their performance in that particular event.
What is ‘classification’ at the Paralympics?
So now we come to the question of definitions - What does S1 mean? Definitions are important in classification: we need to define our classes carefully so that we can decide in which class to put each item.
In this case, "athletes are classified according to the extent of their impairment". The next sentence tell us that the classifications are based on two criteria: the type of disability and the degree of disability.
In fact there are four levels of classification, because first of all we have different events and subclasses of events:
1. the class of event (e.g. S for swimming; T for track);
2. the subclass of event (e.g. B for breaststroke);
3. the type of disability (e.g. physical impairment: classes 1-10, visual impairment: classes 11-13);
4. the degree of disability.
You can see from the class numbers that SB3 would be a breaststroke swimming event for athletes with a physical impairment. What level of physical impairment? The next section gives the answer to this.
The following text deals with the classification of paralimpics events. It is an excerpt from an article in "The Conversation” by Keith Lyons from the University of Canberra, and you can access the full article here. Mouse over the page to see how this text is structured.
The words "sub-divided into separate classes" is almost a definition of classification. When we classify we separate items into different groups (classes) according to some pre-defined criteria. In this case we are putting different sports into separate classes.
As an example, this sentence tells us about two classes: men's 100m freestyle - S2 and men's 100m breaststroke - SB9. These are examples of two classes (the S2 and the SB9 differentiate them from the non paralympic events). We don't yet know what the criteria are for these two classes - so far, they are just examples.
Similarly, the third and fourth sentences provide examples of these classes, this time for track and field events; women's 400m - T12 and women's 400m T37. Again, we don't yet know what the definition of these classes are; they are just example names.
You can see an explanation of classification by mousing over the title at the top of the page.