I really love the Olympics, the excitement of winning medals, all the different sports that you have not thought about for four years, being glued to things you would normally not watch and after five minutes becoming an expert! I am constantly checking the medal table to see if Great Britain have won something else, this year I am even staying up till gone midnight each night watching sports I would normally turn straight off. I am particularly impressed by the respect the athletes have for one another, something my favourite sport of football could do with learning. One thing that really gets to me though is the idea of the Paralympics. These amazing people who are fitter, stronger and more athletic than 99.9% of able-bodied people are relegated to a side-show that is deemed less important than the Olympics. Even the TV coverage moves to a different channel. Whilst the Olympics gets the BBC, a flagship of British television and major broadcaster of sport, the Paralympics moves to Channel 4. Now Channel 4 is great but it is not known for covering sports. Also it is the channel that pushes boundaries and looks to show the niche and unique. This sends a message that the Paralympics are somehow a less popular alternative to the Olympics, a sporting festival that caters only to an alternative market. Maybe they are, but that is largely down to the media’s resentation of ‘disabled’ people as somehow less than able-bodied people. I am particularly loving Channel 4’s ‘superhumans’ campaign with the excellent version of ‘Yes I Can.’ Credit to Channel 4, they really do present the Paralympics well even if I do not think it should be on that channel.
Here is what I think should happen, the Olympics and Paralympics should just be the Olympics. In the Paralympics you have different classes for different athletes based on their abilities i.e. if they are missing limbs they may be in one category or if they are blind in another. Could we not just add one more category, able-bodied? It would be as simple as that. Like the football World Cup the whole competition could last a month or so rather than two weeks. Paralympians are Olympians in their own right so let’s treat them like they should be. I am one for equality and making there just be the Olympics but with different categories would be equality. It would show the world that no matter who you are you can do what you want with hard work and determination. That, despite being different, all people can be strong, role models and winners. It might even change attitudes towards ‘disabled’ people. Oh, and whilst we are at it, do you recon those divers could wear bigger trunks?