I'm looking for a single-word or set-phrase defining the advantage given a handicapped person at a competition. I know that most competitions, including the Olympic Games, don't do that as they have a special edition for the disabled. But some competitions, not necessarily sports, still do it.
I think the term is handicap: (Individual Sports, other than specified).
- a contest, esp a race, in which competitors are given advantages or disadvantages of weight, distance, time, etc, in an attempt to equalize their chances of winning
- the advantage or disadvantage prescribed.
In late 18th-century racing, fast horses were laden with weights, to make races more even, and therefore more attractive for wagering. The practice was called handicapping, from a 17th Century lottery game named hand-in-cap, where the name of the winning player was literally pulled from a cap.
Handicapping, giving a strong player a disadvantage so as to make sports more competitive, spread to other sports, notably golf, but also go, chess, croquet, bowling, and polo. A match in which handicapping was used was called a handicap and that word began to refer to the disadvantage itself.
In the mid-20th century, as part of the ongoing euphemism treadmill about human physical and intellectual disabilities, "handicap" was adopted as the catch-all word for such disabilities.
Given this history, it is ironic that “an advantage given a handicapped person” is giving his opponent a handicap.
You could say they were given a head start.
- an advantage given or acquired in any competition, endeavor, etc., as allowing one or more competitors in a race to start before the others.