Olympians

We watched the Olympics avidly this year. My son is a sports nut so we are definitely interested in watching the best athletes in the world compete at the top of their games in these games.

Those Olympics were full of stories about athletes that had come from bad childhoods, poor neighborhoods, struggling countries to somehow overcome it to make it to the Olympics. We love the story of the underdog winning in the end. At the Olympics we take a little time out from being spoonfed our daily ration of sensationalized news and reality TV. For just a little while we get to watch some really sensational reality on TV. People who work hard, train hard, and dedicate their lives improving themselves. This is the reality I want on my TV. The first ever double amputee to run in the Olympics? How many times did we hear that story? We loved it. We love it still.

We watched athlete after athlete swim faster, run harder, win more medals than ever before. When it was all over I looked ahead to the Paralympic Games to show my son what overcoming adversity and triumphing against long odds really means. We want to celebrate these athletes just as much, if not more, than the first bunch. But we won’t be given the opportunity. The sad fact is that someone, somewhere decided that we really don’t want to see much more inspiration. That we’re just not that interested in the Paralympic Games.

I read this article ,and a few others, about how little coverage that the US is getting of the Paralympics.

I am saddened and shamed by this.

The coverage of the Olympics was extremely extensive. I had 9 hour and 5 hour long recordings on my DVR every single day and we still didn’t get to see everything.  According to the article, ” NBC announced its U.S. coverage would only include video content on the U.S. Paralympics YouTube channel and five and a half hours of pre-recorded coverage airing on broadcast television.”

Five and a half hours total.

I saw nearly three times as much every day of the Olympics as will be aired for the entire Paralympics.

For shame, NBC. What are you telling these athletes, these people about their worth? What are you telling them, and us, about their place in society? You are telling them that they are less than. That they are not deserving of the same attention as “regular” athletes.

You are telling my son that his dad who is a disabled veteran who struggles everyday just to do regular things is not enough. Please don’t use any more disabled people or wounded warriors in your commercials to sell your products if you can’t offer them the decency of your attention in return.

Thanks for making it harder to teach my son that we are all equal.

Thanks for making it easier to explain what discrimination is.

We can

and should

do better than this.

UPDATE: I got mad enough to send an angry email to NBC Sports. Here it is:

To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing this letter to find out why we are being so limited in coverage of the London Paralympics. I was dismayed to read that there is only going to be 5.5 hours of coverage offered here in the US. In total. I think the disparity between the coverage for the “regular” Olympics and the Paralympics is truly unconscionable. 
Are we so accustomed to our sensationalized reality TV that we aren’t able to recognize sensational TV in reality? I like to think that that is not the case, but somewhere, someone in your hierarchy decided that we aren’t interested. That America’s Got Talent trumps talented Americans. I am ashamed of this discrimination against these athletes.
I am so angry right now.
What are you telling these athletes, these people, about their worth? What are you telling them about their place in society? You are telling them that they aren’t worthy of your, and our, attention. You are telling them that they are Less Than. You are telling them that they are not enough.
Broadcasting companies are quick to use a wounded soldier or triumphant disabled person to sell their products by tugging on our heartstrings to reach our purse strings. Please, put your coverage where your mouth is. 
I am trying to show my son that we are all equal. I am trying to teach him that his dad, a disabled veteran who struggles everyday just to do regular activities is not less than. I am angry that you are undermining those teachings.
Thank you for making it easier for me to teach my son about discrimination.
Sincerely,
Brook Hewitt
and a petition on change.org that you can sign if you’re interested and angry like I am.
http://www.change.org/petitions/nbc-give-the-same-news-coverage-to-the-paralympics-as-the-olympics
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