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  • Olympics Lacking Representation

    Posted by deann-r on February 6, 2022 at 7:34 pm

    I don’t usually post on a weekend, but I’ve been stewing about something and want your take on it. The Olympic Opening Ceremony aired Friday. It struck me how there was no visible disability representation whatsoever in the program, even with ample opportunity. It annoyed me the entire time, but I continued watching in hopes I’d see someone using a wheelchair somewhere. The closest they came was one of the children singing wearing glasses. Only one out of dozens. He was smack dab in the middle, probably to look aesthetically pleasing. At first I thought maybe it’s a cultural thing, but I suspect even if the games were in the US the results would be the same.

    What’s sad is that when I brought this up to friends it didn’t even cross their minds until I mentioned it. That’s the problem. It’s so easy not to consider including people with disabilities. Without representation though it’s difficult to normalize (for lack of a better word) disability. It’s part of the reason I get gawked at by kids at Target. When your not familiar with something, you don’t know how to react. If they’d see representation in programs like the Olympic Opening Ceremony it might not be so strange when they see someone in a wheelchair in person.

    After the “regular” Olympics, are the Paralympic Games where individuals with various disabilities from around the world compete. Unfortunately this event takes a back seat. I would like to see some sort of combined games. Maybe athletes from both walk together in the opening ceremonies. Maybe after a traditional sport has been televised a Paralympic sport could be. I would love to learn more about the athletes and their sports from both games not just the Olympics. A big theme for the games is bringing everyone together. Instead of being inclusive, I feel more excluded than ever.

    Did you watch the opening ceremonies? What did you think?

    anna replied 2 years, 2 months ago 6 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • losmi

    February 7, 2022 at 4:33 am

    as always, I don’t think other people are responsible for my feelings, I am responsible for my feelings.

    Do I accept myself as not being good enough professionally? Do I accept myself as not being good enough as a friend? Do I accept myself as a disabled person?

    If I do accept myself as a disabled person, I am not going to be hurt by anything that somebody else does, or doesn’t do. Of course, this is not an easy task, this is a process, and actually in this process I would welcome any situation where I get hurt because that shows that I still do not accept myself fully, and I know that more self-work needs to be applied.

    This is a general story, whenever there is something I try to get to the bottom of that something, and I think this is pretty close to the bottom of this something… but specifically regarding Olympics, I think the whole idea of Paralympics is unnecessary. The whole point of Olympics is seeing competition of physically most advanced human beings, so like, Paralympics????? I very rarely watch Paralympics, it is usually a random thing for me. I think people went way over their heads for disabled persons to also be able to compete at that level, but now that is not enough, we have more demands? We will always have more demands, we will never be satisfied, because we feel infinitely dissatisfied with ourselves.

    Another thing, life is SO hard, for everybody, so I always try to make life easier for people. For instance, if somebody texts me with a question, whether it is a personal or business it doesn’t matter, I always try to answer as fast as I can; in todays world speed is very important, if somebody asks you something usually it will be beneficial to them to get the answer right away. If I need to hop on a call with someone, or meet with someone, I will try to accommodate the time other person wants because I usually have very flexible schedule. Et cetera…

    In this context, I am sure it would be much harder for organizers to include disabled people in the ceremony, and I in the first place would never want that.

    Oh and by the way when kids look at you at Target – smile to them. Genuinely, warmly, wholeheartedly. They will realize (or start to realize) that even your appearances are starkly different than most of other people you are actually just like everyone else, and they will start developing normal relation toward people with disabilities.

    Aaaand another thing, in general I always think it is good when somebody writes something like you just did DeAnn. This is much better than “stewing” on it for days. You have expressed something, maybe you have realized something while formulating your thoughts in a written way, and you gave me a chance to think about this subject and practice my writing, so thank you ????????

    • deann-r

      February 7, 2022 at 6:21 pm

      Thank you for your candid reply Losmi. It’s given me a lot to think about.

      I myself have conflicting feelings on the Paralympics. Sometimes I feel like it’s a competition of the least disabled. But then I think of all of the people who participate in adaptive sports. Why shouldn’t they get recognized if they’ve put in the work to become elite in their field? With that said why should a traditional hockey game be televised but not the adaptive game? I know it has a lot to do with funding and ratings. However without representation it won’t happen.

      Years of my life have been spent trying to make things as easy as possible for others. A lot of times I forgo comfort or time to convenience others. I feel like there’s a time and place to be amenable though. It may be more difficult to be inclusive, but when the games tout bringing people together I think it’s worth the extra effort.

      Yes, when I get stares I’m always pleasant. I understand it’s not every day you see someone in a wheelchair. Hopefully next time it won’t be so shocking. It dawned on me though if there was more representation it might not happen so frequently. The Olympic Opening Ceremony seemed like a perfect opportunity.

  • lupa-f

    February 7, 2022 at 10:03 am

    There have been a few people who’ve competed in both the Paralympics and Olympics. Of course the most famous one is also a murderer so that’s not great.

    But Olympians aren’t like most people anyway so I’m not sure why you’d expect any sort of equal representation.

    • deann-r

      February 7, 2022 at 6:23 pm

      I can rattle off dozens of Olympic athletes but not one Paralympic athlete.

      • yvette-haas

        February 8, 2022 at 4:56 pm

        Time to start learning about some of the great Paralympic athletes who will be competing, so you’ll know who you want to cheer for.

  • kelly-miller

    February 7, 2022 at 4:05 pm

    I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think it would be particularly helpful to the world in general. I think the only people who would notice there was a disabled person on the floor of the stadium would be other disabled people. There would be a lot of hullabaloo made over the one person who they would choose to represent. They would make a fuss and do all kinds of stories on this person, saying how great they are. I don’t like that kind of attention, and I don’t want my representation to be singled out.

    I believe there are just some things that aren’t for us to be at. These athletes have been chosen because they are the elite of the pile. These athletes have met particular prerequisites and been at the top of all competitions Unless there are disabled people who can claim they meet those requirements, I don’t think they should be out there. And I don’t mean under the guidelines of a different scale. I don’t mean where the track has been made shorter or the rules have been altered. These representatives need to have met the exact same skills set or goal line as the able-bodied athletes. That’s the only kind I want standing/sitting out there for me. When we hold ourselves up in the world, I think we should be accountable to the same guidelines.

    • deann-r

      February 7, 2022 at 7:43 pm

      I get where you’re coming from Kelly. A big hullabaloo is not at all what I would want either. It just seems like this would have been the perfect opportunity to be inclusive. Instead of just sitting back and watching the show I want the next generation to see someone like them and be inspired. It could’ve been with the children’s choir, or the dancers, the sign bearers, the hype people or yes the athletes if Paralympic athletes were invited to join the ceremony. I really don’t think it would take away from the Olympic athletes to have the Paralympic athletes beside them.

      Even though I know I couldn’t even partake in the sports being televised I enjoy watching them. After learning more about adaptive sports I feel like I could rally behind them as well. I know a lot of people who do adaptive sports. Why not recognize the elite athletes of them as we do other sports?

  • anna

    February 9, 2022 at 12:55 pm

    I totally see your point DeAnn! Your post reminded me of a TV commercial I saw recently. I can’t remember what was being advertised – a pay-TV broadcaster I think – but essentially it involved a group of friends casually enjoying a football game over pizza and beer. Among them a wheelchair user. I wasn’t the only one who noticed, my PCA found it curious since the ad had nothing to do with disability or even diversity. I, on the other hand, am curious as to why a disabled person can only participate in disability ads. I tried to explain to her that the message was inclusiveness. A product or service designed for and targeted to EVERYONE! Not sure I convinced her, but at least she looked perplexed which is a start lol.

    In other words, I long for that moment in the hopefully not so distant future when disabled people will be advertising coffee or trans people will be advertising milk and it will look so ordinary that no one will even notice. Then we can talk about inclusiveness and social equality. In the meantime, I think we should draw as much attention as possible. Take it from someone who spent most of her life trying to be invisible until she decided to grow up and claim her space in the world!

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