MLB broadcasts — and sports broadcasts in general — have typically shied away from showing fans with visible disabilities in the stands and, according to Smith, who uses a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy, this needs to change.
“I have been watching baseball on TV my whole life and I have never seen one shot of a fan with a discernible disability,” he said.
At least one MLB team, the Arizona Diamondbacks are on board for Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
“This was a simple concept to embrace,” team President Derrick Hall said in a statement. “People with disabilities are a part of the fabric of what baseball fans are. It doesn’t change what we are doing during games. It merely shifts the focus of our cameras between innings or during stoppages in play to a deserving segment of the crowd.”
Smith, who runs a Facebook page dedicated to posting pictures of baseball fans with disabilities, hopes MLB broadcasters keep showing fans with disabilities past Sunday.
“This is a huge step because in order for people with disabilities to reach our full potential as a culture, we need to be seen on television,” Smith said. “Now maybe it will be normal to see a fan with a disability once in a while during a ballgame, and hopefully that spirit will help increase acceptance.”