I dislike organised sport as a whole as I do not like what dwells at its core, the drive to be the best through physicality. I cannot shake the worry that focusing on separating people based on their ability flies in the face of everything disabled people have been fighting against for decades. The Olympic and Paralympic Games have this at their hearts and reinforce society’s belief that ability can be measured in success. It’s strange that while the non-disabled community seem to be fine with admitting that most of them could never achieve the level of physical perfection and achievement of an Olympian, an expectation that disabled people could all do more if they just tried has developed alongside the public’s interest in the Paralympics. While I am sure that much of the blame for rise in hate crime towards disabled people can be laid at the feet of the government and media, I feel that it is also part of the legacy of the Paralympics and the perception that if disabled people aren’t seen to be able to surpass their impairments they can’t be trying hard enough and must be scroungers.
Another element which I find troubling is how some Paralympians seem unwilling or unprepared to use their status to highlight issues that disabled people face. I get that excelling at sport does not equal a deep understanding of disability politics, but I very much doubt that not one member of Paralympics GB has not been touched by discrimination in some way or other. Yet the pressure to be a positive role model that doesn’t rock the boat means that the media is filled with a flood of disabled people who seem OK with things the way they are. I don’t just blame the Paralympians as I am sure they are pressurised by the IPC, their national sporting bodies, the media and their sponsors but when it is so rare for so many disabled people to be so positively featured in the global media it’s a chance too good to miss. I wouldn’t expect all of them so make a protest, but surely more could break ranks and raise issues that the majority of disabled people face on a daily basis?
vadess40’s comments: Interesting take on the Paralympics. And I think the author has a very good point.