Paralympics deserve attention
It seems like the Paralympics just don’t attract as much attention as the ‘normal’ Olympics. Why? I’m not too sure but it’s a result of an under appreciation of the achievements of the differently abled community.
In the 2012 London Olympics, the Olympic coverage was in full force: multiple different channels added to Sky as well as extensive coverage of Prime and the front page of the NZ Herald dedicated to medalists on many occasions. Come time for the Paralympics and no such attention was given, other than Stephen Hawkins speech in the opening ceremony. I can only predict that the same will be the case for the 2014 Winter Paralympics.
I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the Olympics. As an avid sports fan it’s in my blood to flick through the latest goings-on in the various events, even in ones I’m not familiar with. But I can’t help but be frustrated at the lack of interest towards athletes who have trained just as hard and gone through the same grueling process as the athletes in the able-bodied games.
It’s really difficult to convince people that the Paralympics are worth paying attention to and it’s not enough that such a tournament even exists, which is what people have tried to use as a legitimate argument to me in conversation. When Paralympians win a medal for your country, it’s the same as when an able-bodied Olympian wins a medal for your country. Motivations are the same and the achievement evokes the same emotion of accomplishments and success for the players. It should do the same for the nation too, but nonetheless it’s difficult to argue that this is the case. On the national level, the standards are completely two-sided.
People with disabilities are underrepresented in all aspects of life and sporting achievements are just another example of this. This doesn’t make it ok and it will take time to prove to people that the Paralympics are worth paying equal attention to for the sake of making South Africa an inclusive and accepting society.