Wednesday, August 22, 2012


The BBC launched 24 satellite feeds to cover the Olympic Games, all free-to-air, accessible across Europe and most in High Definition. Polish Television repeatedly was running out of airtime to put commercials in and apparently did everything from interrupting tennis matches to delaying live coverage to appease sponsors. The Hungarians unencrypted one of their channels, so that people abroad could follow their national team. Polish Public TV did exactly the opposite- and scrambled their usually encrypted info channel citing licensing limitations. American TV station NBC famously delayed the broadcast of the opening ceremony so more people would watch it at home with an impression that they are seeing it first as it happens live. The point is of course, that the London Games were a big thing. A huge media production, with a lot of built up expectations from the competing states and disappointments when the national teams did not deliver.  You could write a book about what is wrong with professional mainstream sports today. That’s why I rarely watch it. With all the money, sponsors, expensive training trips and methods, injections that can block the pain and tabloids that can tear you to shreds for disgracing your country, where’s the fun in that?  Doesn’t it feel a tad mechanical, like a factory of medals?  Few remember that way back when Olympic Games used to feature amateurs.

But there are different games, set to begin on the 29th- The Paralympics. While UK will get a slightly reduced coverage on four Channel 4 feeds, Polish Television is set to only show bits and highlights with nothing broadcasted live. There was an online petition floating around the  internet urging NBC to show the games  and I wouldn’t hold my breath that it was successful. This event in contrast is not generating a huge media buzz, every reporter in the world does not what to be there for the adventure of their life, TV stations are not competing to show it, advertisers are not killing themselves to get their ads in at obscene cost. There seems to modest at best interest in the games and I guess the feeling is viewers would not turn to the channel showing the games. And I really don’t understand why. Would people really turn away from watching people with disabilities on air? To me those are the more interesting of the games with the concept truer to the original idea. People with limitations pushing themselves further to accomplish  greatness. To raise above physicality, to have the mind conquer the body. They  don’t have the huge corporate machines behind them, but they have will and dedication. Why isn’t this beautiful?  It seems as much of a personal challenge as it is a competition with others. My body doesn’t own me, I own it, and there’s nothing I can’t learn or train myself to do if I push myself. Isn’t it something András Pető would say. A celebration of human spirit. If we move away from counting medals and focusing on the gain/loss analysis, perhaps we can appreciate the people and enjoy the sport. Giving a wide exposure to those great men and women with disabilities could bring awareness to the disability causes. It would show is that we all have our struggles, we are all very much like everyone else. The more you’re exposed to something, the more normal it becomes. Quite honestly I care about this more than the really tall man with long arms winning yet another swimming medal. Is there something shameful about having a disability? Are they not sportsmen like the ones worshipped in July?  Are their accomplishments less worthy because they are blind or in a wheelchair? Seems like that’s the message. Clearly they are not worthy of airtime.

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