Author Topic: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?  (Read 838 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Gnu Ordure

  • Fellow
  • *******
  • Posts: 3832
  • Darwins +109/-9
  • Gender: Male
Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« on: September 04, 2012, 05:00:21 PM »
I was reading that American TV is showing a grand total of 4 hours of highlights of the Paralympics. Compared to the 300 hours being shown here in the UK. (How much is being shown in other countries?).

You're missing a great show; and it helps that the Paralympics is a sell-out. In Beijing four years ago they sold 150,000 tickets; here, we've sold 2.4 million. The Olympic Stadium is full every day, and our gold-medallists are on the front pages of the newspapers.

So why aren't you watching it?

Is it simply that you're rubbish at it?   :) You're sixth in the medals table; we're second. Ha! (Which does raise the question of why you're rubbish at it).


Or is it something else? A different attitude to disability?

Any ideas?

Gnu.

PS I'd be interested to hear from people from other countries as well. This thread isn't Frankian anti-Americanism. 

Offline Garja

  • Postgraduate
  • *****
  • Posts: 759
  • Darwins +38/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2012, 05:30:24 PM »
Valid question Gnu.  I'm not sure I have an answer, but I will give you a couple quick impressions and see if anything sticks.  I mean no offense or disrespect by any of this btw, and I hope none of it comes off that way.

1. Its not the ppl in the US dont CARE about ppl with disabilities, its just they tend to be "invisible".
2. Americans tend to focus on top flight performers and often ignore "second tier"... that said im sure many ppl in the paralympics are amazing athletes, we just dont as a society get into it.
       2b. maybe the paralympics should precede the regular Olympics, idk
3. Its really hard to get us to really like any sport that isn't football (American), basketball, and baseball.  Look at the coverage that Soccer, hockey, and pretty much all women's sports get in the US, and its similar.
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline Gnu Ordure

  • Fellow
  • *******
  • Posts: 3832
  • Darwins +109/-9
  • Gender: Male
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2012, 07:19:00 PM »
I mean no offense or disrespect by any of this btw, and I hope none of it comes off that way.
No worries. Talking about people with disabilities can be tricky, because people aren't sure what words to use.

And what about making jokes? Can one do that? (I know Nogods can!). There's a chat-show on TV every night after the day's events hosted by a disabled Aussie comedian called Adam Hills. In which they do indeed make jokes about disability. The key factor is the attitude behind the joke. There's an interview with him here in whch he makes some very interesting points; e.g. :

Quote
Does he think there are still a lot of patronising attitudes about Paralympic athletes, that kind of cloying triumph-over-adversity angle? "Oh definitely. But there is triumph over adversity – the great thing about the Paralympics is that everyone has a story. Except for the people born with disabilities. They're boring." <snip>

"When I started talking about my foot on stage, there had to be a reason for it. My foot always set off metal detectors at airports. After September 11, they'd go, 'We need to check', but when I said it was an artificial foot they didn't want to offend me and they would go, 'I'm sorry mate, go, go.' Part of me would be going, 'Dude, check, there could be a knife!' I want to know the plane is safe, I don't want know that some guy could pretend to have an artificial foot and get on with a knife." <snip>

He remembers the comedian Phil Kay asking him about his foot. "His first question was, 'Are you all right with it?' And I went yeah, and he went 'good'. That's basically all people want to know when they see someone with a disability – 'are you OK with it because I feel bad for you?'. I think that's why the Paralympics is wonderful because you see a guy with one leg walk down to the pool and take his leg off and you go, 'Oh, I hope he's all right with it.' And then you see him swim an amazing time, far faster than you could ever do, and you go, 'Yeah, he's fine'."

Quote
1. Its not the ppl in the US dont CARE about ppl with disabilities, its just they tend to be "invisible".
Yeah, that's the 'traditional' attitude. And one of the reasons to have the Paralympics in the first place - putting disabled people in the spotlight for a change.

Quote
2. Americans tend to focus on top flight performers and often ignore "second tier"...
I get that. The same attitude applies to gender; with a few exceptions, the best male athletes are better than the best female athletes. Yet people do watch women playing sport.

Quote
3. Its really hard to get us to really like any sport that isn't football (American), basketball, and baseball.
But you get into the Olympics, don't you? You all know who Michael Phelps is... don't you?  :)

Offline rickymooston

Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2012, 08:42:11 PM »
Good question.

I dont know

I am pretty proud of Canadas disabled athletes but i dont watch it.
"i had learn to focus i what i could do rather what i couldn't do", Rick Hansen when asked about getting a disabling spinal cord injury at 15. He continues to raise money for spinal cord research and inspire peoople to "make a difference". He doesnt preach any religion.

Offline jetson

  • Administrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 7289
  • Darwins +170/-6
  • Gender: Male
  • Meet George Jetson!
    • Jet Blog
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2012, 06:54:19 AM »
I think it is probably a reflection of the attitude in the U.S. that top athletes are to be idolized.  And instead of just embracing people with physical characteristics that are different from the "perfect" athlete, we tend to feel sorry for them, and pity them.  I'm sure the Paralympic athletes would make most otherwise healthy Americans look pretty bad in their chosen sport - which hides an element of fear, I think.

For our family, the first time I had ever heard the term Paralympics was this year, during the Olympics.  Not only did I not realize it was such a large event, but I did not know how hard these athletes worked, and how skilled they are.  I honestly thought it was like many events held in local cities, where kids get to compete, but they are not actually athletes, just kids who want to compete, but cannot do so in regular sports due to down syndrome, wheel-chairs, or other things that prevent them from competing otherwise.

Another thing to add - my family does not idolize sports.  We don't follow the NFL, or the NBA, or any major sport.  Our attitudes have changed to the point where it is truly a waste of our time to sit in front of a TV for hours on end, watching a bunch of overpaid neanderthals smack each other around.   ;D

Offline kindred

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1118
  • Darwins +10/-5
  • Gender: Male
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2012, 07:28:57 AM »
I'm not American and also not interested.

Why would I settle for anything less than the top tiers of a sport? Unless the paralympics was exceptionally funny or entertaining, I wouldn't watch it as long as there was a better option.

It's the same reason, I don't watch alot of non UFC MMA bouts. The best and the brightest have already been gathered, why would I watch the second fiddles when they don't really compare?
"Keep calm and carry on"

"I trust you are not in too much distress"

Offline Anfauglir

  • Global Moderator
  • ******
  • Posts: 6198
  • Darwins +408/-5
  • Gender: Male
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2012, 08:16:39 AM »
Why would I settle for anything less than the top tiers of a sport? Unless the paralympics was exceptionally funny or entertaining, I wouldn't watch it as long as there was a better option.

The paralympic 1500m time was faster than the olympic 1500m time - which presumably makes it the top tier of running, at least at that distance!

Also, check out some wheelchair rugby.  They go at it at least as hard as their non-disabled counterparts. 
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline kindred

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1118
  • Darwins +10/-5
  • Gender: Male
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2012, 06:11:34 AM »
Why would I settle for anything less than the top tiers of a sport? Unless the paralympics was exceptionally funny or entertaining, I wouldn't watch it as long as there was a better option.

The paralympic 1500m time was faster than the olympic 1500m time - which presumably makes it the top tier of running, at least at that distance!

Also, check out some wheelchair rugby.  They go at it at least as hard as their non-disabled counterparts.

Another reason I don't watch: I think athletes ought to be the absolute pinnacle of human physical attainment.
"Keep calm and carry on"

"I trust you are not in too much distress"

Offline Anfauglir

  • Global Moderator
  • ******
  • Posts: 6198
  • Darwins +408/-5
  • Gender: Male
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2012, 07:28:37 AM »
Why would I settle for anything less than the top tiers of a sport? Unless the paralympics was exceptionally funny or entertaining, I wouldn't watch it as long as there was a better option.

The paralympic 1500m time was faster than the olympic 1500m time - which presumably makes it the top tier of running, at least at that distance!

Also, check out some wheelchair rugby.  They go at it at least as hard as their non-disabled counterparts.

Another reason I don't watch: I think athletes ought to be the absolute pinnacle of human physical attainment.

That was my point: the 1500m paralympian is faster - and therefore by that standard better - then the olympian.  So if you wished to watch a 1500m race, you'd watch the paralympic one, presumably?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline kindred

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1118
  • Darwins +10/-5
  • Gender: Male
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2012, 08:09:56 AM »
@anfuaglir

Was it done without prosthetics? If it wasn't then where do I watch it? If it was then, doesn't count. You could always just put an ultra specialized pair for the race that would give you a mechanical advantage but wouldn't have the versatility of a human leg.
"Keep calm and carry on"

"I trust you are not in too much distress"

Offline Anfauglir

  • Global Moderator
  • ******
  • Posts: 6198
  • Darwins +408/-5
  • Gender: Male
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2012, 03:08:48 AM »
Was it done without prosthetics? If it wasn't then where do I watch it? If it was then, doesn't count. You could always just put an ultra specialized pair for the race that would give you a mechanical advantage but wouldn't have the versatility of a human leg.

Does it only count if the event is done naked?  Swimwear and footwear are both deisgned to give an advantage.  Presumably pole-vault is also out as humans don't have great long sticks.  Likewise archery, tennis, rowing, cycling.....they all add something to the basic human body to allow them to do something more.  Mind you, I'd be 100% with you on archery - all the sticks and stabilisers they have on their bows these days, take it back to the simple stick of yew, I say!   ;)

I know very little about MMA, but the first site I went to showed a lot of them wearing "boxing" type gloves - I'm presuming you only watch the fights that are bare-knuckle?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Gnu Ordure

  • Fellow
  • *******
  • Posts: 3832
  • Darwins +109/-9
  • Gender: Male
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2012, 07:15:27 AM »
Why would I settle for anything less than the top tiers of a sport?
But in the abled world we divide people into different tiers based on physical differences - age, weight, gender.

By your logic nobody would want to watch Sugar Ray Leonard box, or Serena Williams play tennis, or watch college football. But millions do.

The same logic applies to disabled people - they get their own categories baed on physical differences, and within those categories, the best of them are in the top tier.

Offline kindred

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1118
  • Darwins +10/-5
  • Gender: Male
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2012, 07:23:02 AM »
Why would I settle for anything less than the top tiers of a sport?
But in the abled world we divide people into different tiers based on physical differences - age, weight, gender.

By your logic nobody would want to watch Sugar Ray Leonard box, or Serena Williams play tennis, or watch college football. But millions do.

The same logic applies to disabled people - they get their own categories baed on physical differences, and within those categories, the best of them are in the top tier.

You've got to find a way to separate the wheat from the chaff. My personal method works for me. I may be missing alot of things but I am able to use my free time more efficiently and enjoy myself as much as possible wasting as little time on the low pleasure yielding entertainment by using  my own method.

Was it done without prosthetics? If it wasn't then where do I watch it? If it was then, doesn't count. You could always just put an ultra specialized pair for the race that would give you a mechanical advantage but wouldn't have the versatility of a human leg.

Does it only count if the event is done naked?  Swimwear and footwear are both deisgned to give an advantage.  Presumably pole-vault is also out as humans don't have great long sticks.  Likewise archery, tennis, rowing, cycling.....they all add something to the basic human body to allow them to do something more.  Mind you, I'd be 100% with you on archery - all the sticks and stabilisers they have on their bows these days, take it back to the simple stick of yew, I say!   ;)

I know very little about MMA, but the first site I went to showed a lot of them wearing "boxing" type gloves - I'm presuming you only watch the fights that are bare-knuckle?

You get my general point. In the archery example, all of the competitors have those mechanical advantages or at the very least the option. If a a runner was to surgically cut of his leg and replace it with superspecialized sprinting forelegs, I don't think he'd be allowed to compete.

Also, the fingerless gloves MMA fighters wear are there to make fighting more entertaining to casual fans. It gives striking a huge advantage by giving the fighters hand protection. Personally, I'd prefer it if the score was evened out by making the fighters wear tightfitting shirts so grapplers had a handhold and something to wipe the sweat off but since majority of MMA fans care more about the spectacle rather than fairness it ain't gonna happen.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 07:24:50 AM by kindred »
"Keep calm and carry on"

"I trust you are not in too much distress"

Offline Gnu Ordure

  • Fellow
  • *******
  • Posts: 3832
  • Darwins +109/-9
  • Gender: Male
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2012, 12:57:49 PM »
Why would I settle for anything less than the top tiers of a sport?
But in the abled world we divide people into different tiers based on physical differences - age, weight, gender.

By your logic nobody would want to watch Sugar Ray Leonard box, or Serena Williams play tennis, or watch college football. But millions do.

The same logic applies to disabled people - they get their own categories baed on physical differences, and within those categories, the best of them are in the top tier.

You've got to find a way to separate the wheat from the chaff. My personal method ... <snip>
Do what you like, kindred, I couldn't care less what you watch. This thread is about national attitudes to disability rather than personal attitudes to watching sport.

Offline thunderridge

  • Graduate
  • ****
  • Posts: 445
  • Darwins +16/-0
  • Gender: Male
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2012, 01:47:25 PM »
Gnu Ordure
Quote
Is it simply that you're rubbish at it?    You're sixth in the medals table; we're second. Ha! (Which does raise the question of why you're rubbish at it).

We will pass you guys eventually. :)     I didn't even know this was happening.  Why is the coverage minimal here in the U.S.?   IDK

Offline Aerial

Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2012, 02:42:32 PM »
The coverage is minimal in the U.S because


Yanks are WINNERS...winners don't have disabilities. sheesh.


Offline Gnu Ordure

  • Fellow
  • *******
  • Posts: 3832
  • Darwins +109/-9
  • Gender: Male
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2012, 04:00:57 PM »
I think it is probably a reflection of the attitude in the U.S. that top athletes are to be idolized.
Sure, but what I'm saying is that the top disabled athletes are top athletes. So it's appropriate to idolize them, if you want to. Personally I feel respect and admiration for my sporting 'heroes', I don't really idolize them.

Quote
And instead of just embracing people with physical characteristics that are different from the "perfect" athlete, we tend to feel sorry for them, and pity them.
That's understandable as an initial reaction, but you have to move through that. The fact is, disabled people don't tend to spend their time feeling sorry for themselves and wallowing in self-pity. So they don't want you to spend your time feeling sorry for them.

It's very interesting what's happening here in the UK. The general public seems to have decided, quite suddenly, to treat the Paralympics as an ordinary sporting event, to be appreiciated on its own merits.

On Thursday, over 6 million people here (10% of the population) watched one-legged 19-year-old Brit Jonnie Peacock win the 100 metres in 10.9 seconds, 80,000 of them in the Stadium. He was on the front pages of the papers the next day.

Jonnie is now a national hero; he's also young, fit, handsome and marketable.

I'm pretty sure that if you told Jonnie right now that you felt sorry for him, he would give you a rather quizzical look....

Quote
For our family, the first time I had ever heard the term Paralympics was this year, during the Olympics.
Here in the UK, the Paralympics entered national consciousness around 2000, mainly through the efforts of Tanni Grey-Thompson, who won 11 gold medals wheel-chair racing between '92 and '04. In 2000, she was voted 3rd Place in the BBC's annual poll of Sports Personality of the Year, which is voted on by the public.

Tanni G-T kept the concept in the public eye after her retirement from racing, by proving to be rather good at sports administration, to the extent that in 2010 she was made a Life Peer and now sits in the House of Lords, passing laws and so on.

The Paralympics also got a lot of publicity in 2008, because of the feats of 13-year-old Ellie Simmonds, the youngest member of our team, who won two swimming gold medals.

This year she was the poster girl for the Games, as Jessica Ennis was in the Olympics. Under a huge weight of expectation, she competed in four events, winning two gold, one silver and a bronze.

She's a four-foot tall idol.

Quote
Not only did I not realize it was such a large event, but I did not know how hard these athletes worked, and how skilled they are.  I honestly thought it was like many events held in local cities, where kids get to compete....
But why should you know about it, if the event is only shown on your TV for four hours? Your TV guys (and the advertisers) think there's no market for the Paralympics, so they don't show them. So the question is, is there a potential market in the US, or not? I'd like to think there is...
« Last Edit: September 08, 2012, 04:19:24 PM by Gnu Ordure »

Offline Garja

  • Postgraduate
  • *****
  • Posts: 759
  • Darwins +38/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2012, 06:01:54 PM »
The coverage is minimal in the U.S because


Yanks are WINNERS...winners don't have disabilities. sheesh.

That is why we've never lost a war, have the best educashun AND healthcare system in the world, are the greatest nation in the world, and we love us some Jesus!  Boooyahhh, Amurica!
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline jetson

  • Administrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 7289
  • Darwins +170/-6
  • Gender: Male
  • Meet George Jetson!
    • Jet Blog
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2012, 08:01:37 PM »
Gnu - all I can say is that the TV "market" over here is pretty pathetic overall.  It will drop anything that loses a dime on profits, it seems.

Given that there is a huge market outside of the U.S. for the Paralympics, it seems to indicate a major difference in priorities - perhaps?  If I knw more about it, I would probably be embarrassed.

Offline Garja

  • Postgraduate
  • *****
  • Posts: 759
  • Darwins +38/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2012, 10:37:53 PM »
I dont really watch a hell of a lot of tv, but if my wife's tastes in tv is any indication of "typical" American tastes, its all pretty banal bullshit.
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline rickymooston

Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2012, 12:28:47 PM »
@anfuaglir

Was it done without prosthetics? If it wasn't then where do I watch it? If it was then, doesn't count. You could always just put an ultra specialized pair for the race that would give you a mechanical advantage but wouldn't have the versatility of a human leg.

Bobsleding and horse jumping are olympic sports
"i had learn to focus i what i could do rather what i couldn't do", Rick Hansen when asked about getting a disabling spinal cord injury at 15. He continues to raise money for spinal cord research and inspire peoople to "make a difference". He doesnt preach any religion.

Offline Garja

  • Postgraduate
  • *****
  • Posts: 759
  • Darwins +38/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2012, 01:49:43 PM »
@anfuaglir

Was it done without prosthetics? If it wasn't then where do I watch it? If it was then, doesn't count. You could always just put an ultra specialized pair for the race that would give you a mechanical advantage but wouldn't have the versatility of a human leg.

Bobsleding and horse jumping are olympic sports


Devil's Advocate:

But those horses aren't racing against humans on human legs.

"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline rickymooston

Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #22 on: September 09, 2012, 02:08:57 PM »
True. I suppose able body people coyld compete in wheel chair sports too

Do you think you could defeat Rick Hansen in his area of expertise?
"i had learn to focus i what i could do rather what i couldn't do", Rick Hansen when asked about getting a disabling spinal cord injury at 15. He continues to raise money for spinal cord research and inspire peoople to "make a difference". He doesnt preach any religion.

Offline Garja

  • Postgraduate
  • *****
  • Posts: 759
  • Darwins +38/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #23 on: September 09, 2012, 02:27:39 PM »
^Nope.

And I am not even saying what my opinion is on the case, because frankly I am not certain what my opinion IS.
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline kindred

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1118
  • Darwins +10/-5
  • Gender: Male
Re: Why aren't Americans interested in the Paralympics?
« Reply #24 on: September 09, 2012, 08:52:43 PM »
@anfuaglir

Was it done without prosthetics? If it wasn't then where do I watch it? If it was then, doesn't count. You could always just put an ultra specialized pair for the race that would give you a mechanical advantage but wouldn't have the versatility of a human leg.

Bobsleding and horse jumping are olympic sports



Devil's Advocate:

But those horses aren't racing against humans on human legs.

The playing field is level. The only advantages sports allow are physical and mental talent that was born into you. Although there are cases where even that is not allowed, when it gets excessive. For example that female runner who was born with naturally higher testosterone and had almost twice the physical capabilities of a normal woman.
"Keep calm and carry on"

"I trust you are not in too much distress"