Why the Paralympics are Important!

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If you didn’t already know, the Winter Paralympic games are coming up soon. The Winter Paralympics follow up the Winter Olympic games for people with a wide range of disabilities, including impaired muscle power or muscle movement, limb deficiency, leg length difference, short stature, vision, or intellectual impairment disabilities. There are winter and summer Paralympics, and they happen every four years just like the Olympics.

The winter Paralympics include alpine skiing, para-snowboarding, ice sledge hockey, biathlon, cross-country skiing, and wheelchair curling. The Summer Paralympics include archery, athletics, boccia, cycling, equestrian, football 5-a-Side, football 7-a-Side, goalball, judo, paracanoe, paratriathlon, powerlifting, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, volleyball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis. The Paralympics are split into several categories within the individual sports in order to make it fair for competitors physically, visually, and mentally.

In my opinion, the Paralympics hasn’t always received the recognition or value it deserves. While the Rio Olympics’ opening ceremony six years ago attracted more than 30 million viewers, the Rio Paralympics peaked at just over two million viewers. However, the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympics did manage to break some records, with the Winter Games setting new benchmarks in terms of countries covering the Games, hours broadcast and the number of viewers outside of the host market. At a time when the growth in TV audiences is stagnant, the Paralympics has begun to buck that trend, showing strong growth on all platforms. With Beijing 2022 on the horizon, I’m hoping to see further records broken in the future.

However, the Paralympic athletes don’t get as much funding as the Olympic athletes.
Most of the Olympic Committees around the world provide much less funding in Paralympic athletic endorsements. The Paralympic athletes also earn less in financial awards for medals and earn fewer stipends throughout their careers. Overall, less media exposure and national recognition is granted to these athletes.

So why should athletes be better recognized and celebrated more widely. Not only are these people highly skilled in their fields, but they also defeated their disabilities. They display great determination and courage to overcome mental and physical obstacles. They are truly inspirational because they prove that few things are impossible. The Paralympics also raise awareness of mental and physical disabilities in the hope of creating a better life for those with disabilities. It therefore serves to change public perception of disabilities in order to provide the Paralympics with better facilities that would drastically improve their quality of life.

By representing their countries at the highest level in their sport, Paralympians play an important role in transforming societal attitudes towards people with disabilities and promoting a more inclusive society. The Paralympics promotes inclusivity and sets a new benchmark for what is thought to be possible.

We need to recognize these champions and applaud them as much as we recognize and applaud our other Winter Olympians.

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. How does the Winter Paralympics challenge stereotypes?
  2. What does the word “para” mean and why is it used in “Paralympics”?
  3. Why is the Winter Paralympics just as important as the Winter Olympics?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. What is your favourite Winter Paralympic sport?
  2. How does splitting the Paralympics into several categories within the individual sports make it fairer for competitors?
  3. What time/date does the Winter Paralympics begin, and what sports will you be watching?

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