As It Happens

Family overjoyed after Ontario basketball league stops using the term 'midget'

The Guelph Youth Basketball Association and Ontario Basketball Association will drop the term "midget" from its age classifications, after a push from Regina Scott's family.

'We were so grateful,' says Regina Scott, whose son was born with dwarfism

A photo of Johnny Beaton, a player on the Guelph Youth Basketball Association's under-15 boys team. The league has decided to stop using the term 'midget' in reference to players in the 14-16 age category. (Submitted by Kurt Vosper)
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Transcript

When Regina Scott's two-year-old son Jeremy was born with dwarfism, her family noticed just how commonplace the term "midget" is in sports — and decided to do something about it.

"We realized how derogatory and offensive and belittling the term is to people of short stature," Scott told As It Happens host Carol Off.

"It was confusing to us ... because it's commonly used in sport."

After a push from the Scott family, the Guelph Youth Basketball Association agreed to drop the term "midget" from its age classifications. The Ontario Basketball Association will make the change next year. 

Scott says she is overjoyed that the Guelph and Ontario basketball leagues decided to get rid of the term, so people like her son Jeremy will feel welcome. (Submitted by Regina Scott)

It has long been used in basketball and other sports to define players in the 14 -16 age category, but it is also an offensive word used to describe people with dwarfism.

Now, Guelph players in that age group will be called "minor."

'Makes us cringe'

Scott's husband Chris is a longtime basketball player and now a coach with the Guelph league, and even played in the "midget" level when he was that age.

She says they didn't know the word carried so much weight, until Jeremy.

"It's a word that now …  makes us cringe," she said.

While Jeremy still has quite a few years until he can play in the league, Scott worried about the effect the term would have on her two older children.

"I think of my older children, in a couple of years, being in that level and I know that it would be one of those things ... that they're cringing every time they're hearing a word that is essentially belittling their little brother," she said.

So she decided to see if it was possible to make a change.

A photo of Robert Vosper, a player on the Guelph Youth Basketball Association's under-15 boys team. The league's decision to drop the term "midget" came after Scott mentioned that it was hurtful to people born with dwarfism, like her son. (Submitted by Kurt Vosper)

"It just started off as a casual conversation and I … brought awareness to the meaning of the word with the Guelph youth basketball president, Kurt Vosper," Scott said.

Vosper instantly embraced the idea and Scott said there was a positive reaction from the league.

"It's still going to be the same caliber of basketball, it's still going to be the same game. It just has a different classification level," she said.

'Nothing positive about that word'

Scott said Vosper then sent an email with Scott's suggestion to the province-wide league.

A couple days later, the Ontario Basketball league announced that they would also be dropping the term.

"Honestly we were so grateful, so overjoyed. It does a lot for a community of people and their families and their siblings and people who will be playing in that level," Scott said.

Scott now hopes that other sports that use the classification, like hockey, will follow suit.

"I'd like to see that change happen all across the board because there's nothing positive about that word," Scott said.  

"It's a no-brainer."

Written by Sarah Jackson. Produced by Jeanne Armstrong.