When Rules Exclude: On Bowling and Equality

AuthorColleen Sheppard
When Rules Exclude:
On Bowling and Eality
My name is Tammy Lee McLeod. I am 11 years old. I love bowling so
much I want to be a ar! Bowling is the only sport that I am able to play
right along with my friends. I am a pretty good bowler and have alif‌ied
for several tournaments. When they told me I was not allowed to bowl in
them I was very mad. All I want to do is go out and bowl and have fun and
be able to compete ju like my friends!
testimony of tammy mcLeoD, citeD in McLeod v Youth BowLing counciL
of ontario, ontario BoarD of inquiry, 19881
   not stop to consider the implications of the myriad
rules and regulations that we confront every day: we simply follow
them. But the rules that shape our lives are not completely neu-
tral they have generally been developed and applied by those who
belong to the dominant group in any given social structure. This
means that rules that appear neutral can have very unequal ef‌fects
on individuals and groups, even to the point of excluding people
from opportunities or activities and undermining the possibility for
participating in the surrounding community. Anti-discrimination
law is concerned with rules that unfairly exclude particular indi-
viduals, such as children and adults with disabilities. The rules and
regulations of society — the standard norms — often do not take into
account the dif‌ferent needs and realities facing persons with dis-
abilities. Increasingly, individuals with disabilities have challenged
apparently neutral rules and revealed their exclusionary ef‌fects.
Tammy McLeod and her parents, in challenging Tammy’s exclusion
from a regional bowling tournament, were at the forefront of raising
Discrimination stories
awareness about the discriminatory ef‌fects of society’s rules. Her
human rights case is the focus of this chapter.
Tammy McLeod’s Case
Excluded from the Tournament
This is a story about Tammy McLeod when she was a young girl.2 She
has cerebral palsy, a medical condition that af‌fects her motor coordin-
ation and speech, and requires her to use a wheelchair for mobility,
but does not af‌fect her mental capacities. When Tammy was six years
old, she began bowling with the help of her parents. Tammy’s father
built her a simple wooden ramp — a “ramp assist.” Her mother would
carry her up to the bowling lane, put the wooden ramp on Tammy’s
lap, and place a bowling ball at the top of the ramp. Tammy would
take hold of the ball, move the ramp into the best position to guide the
ball’s direction, and then release it. The incline of the ramp gave the
ball the speed necessary to reach the end of the bowling lane.
This process allowed Tammy to bowl with her brother and
school friends every Saturday morning at the local bowling alley, and
brought Tammy and her family a great deal of joy. Tammy became
more and more skilled with the ramp as she grew older, and she
competed in a Bantam league with sixty other children. When she
was eleven years old, she entered the annual “4 Steps to Stardom”
tournament, which involved local, regional, provincial, and national
competitions. At the f‌irst of the four levels of competition, Tammy
qualif‌ied to progress to the next level of competition. Shortly there-
after, however, she was informed by the local administrator of the
Youth Bowling Council that she was disqualif‌ied from further par-
ticipation in the tournament because of her use of the ramp. The
Youth Bowling Council administrator considered the use of the ramp
to violate the Canadian 5 Pin Bowlers’ Association Ocial Rules and
Regulations (1978), specif‌ically, rule 1(b) that stated, “A bowling ball
must be delivered entirely by manual means and shall not incorpor-
ate any device either in the ball or axed to it.
Tammy was deeply upset by her exclusion from the tourna-
ment and stopped bowling completely for a year following her

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