Disability 101: Paralympic Call for Equality
March 14, 2010
Yeehaw!!! The 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games are at last being televised in the U.S.! Well, sort of. It’s not ideal coverage, but it’s a lot more than we have ever had before, so we are making progress.
The Paralympic Winter Games opened March 12 in Vancouver and will continue through March 21. These games bring together the best of the best – highly elite, internationally competitive athletes who compete in Alpine skiing, cross country skiing, the biathlon, hockey and curling. By the way, all of these athletes just happen to have physical disabilities, but that doesn’t effect their skill level.
The Paralympic Games are one of largest athletic events in the world. Approximately 600 athletes from 40 different countries are participating this year. These athletes have been following a grueling training schedule for years, the competition is intense, and these Games will take your breath away.
The Paralympics have a loyal following who are starting to get quite a bit louder. Paralympic fans have been demanding that the Paralympics be televised for a while now. Prior to these Games, that has never happened before in the U.S. Other countries have televised the Paralympics, but not the U.S. At last we are catching up. Sort of.
Paralympic fans are now getting even louder, currently starting to demand that the Paralympics be blended with the Olympics. It’s the same caliber of competition and the same caliber of athletes, so why shouldn’t Paralympians have a chance to showcase their sports and skills in the Olympics? Separate but equal just doesn’t cut it anymore. The Winter X-Games are now including a few Paralympic sports, why not the Winter Olympics?
Why must we fight to get these athletes the recognition and coverage they deserve? Oh yeah, they have disabilities. Too many people assume that just because they have disabilities, they can’t possibly be elite athletes highly skilled in their sport. Too many people think people with disabilities can’t be involved in sports at all. Too many people keep getting the Paralympics confused with Special Olympics.
What’s the difference between Paralympics and Special Olympics?
Special Olympics is designed exclusively for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics provides the opportunity for individuals with intellectual disabilities to participate in winter and summer sports. There are no qualifications for participation. A participant might be a devoted athlete who engages in their chosen sport daily or a participant might be someone who just wants to try the sport and enjoy the atmosphere and camaraderie of the games. At the Special Olympics, the focus is not on competition and winning. Instead the focus is on participating and encouraging everyone.
It’s not so in the Paralympics. The Paralympics are a different ballgame. You have not lived until you have seen a monoskier flying at 65 mph downhill. Oh yeah, that monoskier can’t walk, but they can fly.
If you want to watch the Paralympics, you can find them on NBC. You already missed a one-hour recap of the opening ceremonies broadcasted last Saturday. However, NBC will run a two-hour highlights show on April 10 at 1 p.m. Universal Sports will broadcast a nightly two-hour show for nine straight nights from March 15 through March 23 at 4 p.m., and again at 9 p.m. However, Universal Sports is not available in all markets. Check out
http://www.universalsports.com for additional coverage.
Paralympic Sport TV will broadcast live and delayed coverage on http://www.paralympicsport.tv. They were the ones to bring us the Paralympics when no one else would. For more information on the Paralympics, check out http://www.vancouver2010.com/paralympic-games.