If Exceptional Athletes, Students Fully Included, Why Aren't Paralympics On US TV?

Time to watch the Paralympics. What? Networks in the US aren't giving them fair coverage? Move over Tom Daly & Stephan Feck, network television is now joining you on the podium of Olympic bellyflops.

Blogger's Note: Correction to my last blog entry.  Oscar Pistorius was not the only paralympic athelete to be in London's Olympics this year.  Meet Natalia Partka.

I wanted to start by saying thank you to everyone who commented on the last blog entry. The stories and positive emotion behind universally designed opportunities melted my heart and brought back many memories.  The names may be different but the heart of the matter is united.   

As I enjoy the lull in Olympics coverage I was very disheartened to learn that we as a society may not have made the advances in the world of inclusion and universal design as originally hoped.  Over the summer I made light hearted comments when people would bring their children to our summer program that they did not have to look for the back door, our students are welcomed through the front door.  You see, in the history of special education those students with disabilities found themselves either going in to school through a separate entrance or being educated in rooms which were in the far reaches of the school community.  I still remember fellow students in 8th grade going to the trailer during certain classes (yet at the time I didn't know where they went or why).

What are we as a nation saying to our atheletes and children when they just finished watching non-stop coverage of the Olympics on NBC and they find out that the "other" Olympics are not on TV in the United States, let me clarify they are on for 1 hour a day.  These athletes worked just as hard and have stories which are just as heart wrenching and empowering as those we saw each night on television.  I write this in hopes that television executives learn to take a similar approach to ours when it comes to programming for children with special needs.  If 20% of America has a diagnosed disability than 20% of your organization's programs should be made available to those with disabilities, if you don't have the capacity to make 100% of your programs available to everyone.  In the case of the Paralympics, especially since they are taped, don't these athletes and families deserve the opportunity of being on 20% of the network programming schedule from August 29th through September 9th?  I believe both the athletes leaving London and those traveling to London wish each other's athletic competitions to be on a stage for all the world to marvel.  Instead we are left up to our eyeballs in fake reality TV shows.  A very sad commentary for the mainstream that claims to be empathetic and accepting of minorities.

If you would like to follow the Paralympics with me go to: http://www2.teamusa.org/US-Paralympics.aspx

You can also follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/usparalympics

Lets hope for more Paralympians breaking into the Olympics in Rio and appropriate television coverage in 2016.

Who am I and what do I do?

I am the father of three children, husband to a very special woman, and work as a Social entrepeneur supporting children with disabilities, the families who love them, and professionals who serve them.

I was born and raised in Southeastern CT (Hanover to be exact).  Went to Hofstra University and graduated with an interest in developmental psychology.  After interning and becoming a certified Special Education teacher I worked as a special education teacher, district behavior consultant, and assistive technology coordinator.  

In July of 2009 I left teaching to reach for my dream to be an effective positive influence on familes, school districts, and service providers across the region, something not possible in the classroom.

Early in 2009 Synergy Center was created, followed by Sensations Charitable Foundation as vehicles to support families with social, emotional, and behavioral needs.  Since their creation we have made a positive difference in the lives of more than 200 families, teachers, and service providers.

Working with Patch is an opportunity to continue our work and connect people to information and services their families need to be their best, yet may not find in through typical channels.  As I say to people who either help our cause or come to us for support - Let's Play!

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This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

stluva50s September 02, 2012 at 11:12 PM
What a silly man you are. You need a hobby.
Since the essence of the topic may have been lost here, I would like to leave you with this as I turn to my next blog entry. http://dawn.com/2012/09/02/kindness-makes-life-happier-and-longer/
Daniella Ruiz September 03, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Jim G 2:05pm an ideal program for an ideal world? it would be theoretically astounding content i'm sure. as each book transmits a unique signature of content, a TV or other media production has the same possibility of value, yet each is limited by the recipients desire to want it or find use of it. (do you read/buy books that don't interest you?) recognizing the achievement of others is as much a social strength as is performing any task that requires special talents, effort and a devotion to doing it. assigning one's limited time and strength to a single end, even if the end is of no functional social purpose other than to share the common yearning to belong as a part of the social web requires attention and personal cost. it may be trite, but being there, at an event, is a much richer experience, than a carefully crafted ( & time limited) display we see on TV/media. (& less time is wasted on advertisements, which have become an art unto their own) i guess i'm saying, if you want to support the paralympics, just GO and BE THERE for the performers, rather than contribute to the intermediary greed and exploitation served up by media TV and their mass marketed 'ideals'. ask people who have 'participated' in rallys, Woodstock, social uprisings, town meetings, walks for breast cancer, RNC/DNC conventions or other live events if they went away unchanged or with out some internalized understanding that left them more whole as a person.
Jim G. September 03, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Sorry, Brian, nothing about the blog/comment format encourages staying focused on the topic and it's rare for an article that draws ANY comments to actually address the article for more than a few entries. In a perfect world... But, belatedly, I'll say this: I don't think the US appetite for individual sports is very high. Swimming, track and field, etc. - I think the audience can be measured in droplets. This is true for 99% of the events - amateur, college, and special-entrant ones like Paralymipics or the Gay Games. The only prejudice is against the sports themselves. The Olympics? Not really a counter argument. They are a massively hyped spectacle with decades of built-in interest - using the term "interest" loosely, as the single greatest public facet of the Olympics are the fans who, never watching any other competitions of the type for three years and fifty weeks, spend two weeks as obsessed pseudo-experts on the events, the participants and the moves. (Then can't recall anyone except Michael Phelps a week later.) It's not news that, nor particularly hard to explain why, participants in any but the big 2-1/2 sports struggle for exposure and recognition. Sorry about that...


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