Bodie Theone said “apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand.” This may not be strictly true in this case, but the apathy towards the Paralympics shown by broadcaster NBC is certainly going some way to ensure that disability sports have less exposure. Less exposure means improving rights and standards are that much harder.
In the UK, as the Paralympic opening ceremony got beyond its perplexing opening flourishes, an average of about eight million viewers were treated to an array of protest songs and poetic celebration.
Perhaps it was the protest element that NBC wanted to avoid: multi-colored volunteers, both able bodied and impaired, waving boards saying “RIGHTS”; a band loudly playing Spasticus Autisticus by Ian Dury and the Blockheads; a giant replica of Marc Quinn’s sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant taking centre stage.
However, it was a genuine shock to find that in the US all 11 days of intense competition were to be shown as a series of one-hour highlight shows and one 90-minute finale, all in one week.
Commentators have been talking about the scale of the event. More and more countries have taken part and discourse begins about leveling the playing-filed in terms of equipment available to competitors, within the movement itself. In the opening ceremony a performing actress was informed to “break through the glass ceiling.”
Of course it is hard to break through any glass ceiling when schedulers ignore your spectacular feats of strength, skill and wit, until after the fact.
The US medalists will get their moment with the President upon return. That much is certain. Yet, because of the lack of enthusiasm and determination to promote something than needs help to grow, the corporate chiefs have doomed the Paralympics to several montages.
Let’s hope those are well received.