Showdown is a sport played by both visually impaired and sighted players and falls within the authority of the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA). Any competition sanctioned by IBSA can only involve visually impaired players. The very popular sport is established across Europe, but also is steadily gaining popularity elsewhere in the world. For visually impaired athletes, it is the answer to air hockey and table tennis. The sport featured at a major international event as early as 1980 but since featuring at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, it directly led to a surge in interest. At present it does not form part of the Paralympic program, but IBSA continues to work hard toward establishing regional championships that will lead to international championships, an important criterion for inclusion.
The creation of Showdown in the 1960s can be credited to Canada’s Joe Lewis, who wanted to establish a sport especially for visually impaired athletes that did not require the presence of sighted assistance. A fellow Canadian, Patrick York, helped Lewis refine the rules and together with feedback from other regions across the world, the sport has evolved to what it is today. Showdown is played by two players on a rectangular table with a centre board screen. The players are stationed behind either end of the short sides, also where the goal pockets are. The intention for a player is to bat the ball underneath the centre board screen into the goal pocket of the opponent. Each player wears protective eye wear that ensures the ball cannot be sighted. Points are awarded for various actions during a match. For any audience attending, cheering is only allowed after the referee has blown the whistle to help ensure players can clearly hear the ball.
The International Blind Sports Association is based in Bonn, Germany, and oversees other sports for visually impaired athletes like Football, Goalball, Judo, Chess, Ninepin Bowling, Powerlifting and Tenpin Bowling.