2020 Paralympics Bring Change Even When the World Isn’t Watching

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Image courtesy of AP images

Paralympic basketball players fight for ball in the 2020 Paralympic games.

Jaelyn Hudson, A&E Editor

Millions of people sat down this summer to watch the 2020 Tokyo Olympics— a widely anticipated event after COVID-19 postponed the games last year. But, when the Paralympics began at the end of last month, it did not receive equal attention.

“I think we see the Olympics on almost every channel and all the time,” senior Josh Stout said. “But it is so hard to find the Paralympics being screened or shown. It is also hard to find highlight videos on YouTube and the internet.” 

The games began Aug. 24 and end Sept. 5. So far, Team USA has won 81 medals, 28 of which are gold. 

According to the International Paralympic Committee, viewership is estimated to increase. But, for many, the event is still poorly publicized.

“I see far less commercials and advertisements about it [the Paralympics]…” junior Annisyn Krebs-Carr said, “…and if it weren’t for the [Team USA] Instagram posts, I honestly would have never known that it was going on.” 

The Paralympics struggle to gain equal attention to the Olympics, but according to sophomore Jillian Lane, the games are still important.

“People focus so much on the regular Olympics, and the people in the Paralympics work just as hard,” Lane said. “They also can inspire other people to do the same thing.”

Stout agrees.

“I…think being inclusive is the most important thing ever,” he said. “So many people think that a disability makes someone lesser or less important, but that’s not true. People with disabilities make amazing changes in our community.”

And though the Paralympics can be very important to diversifying popular sports, there are many misconceptions about the games. 

According to the Team USA website, the term “Paralympics” is often mistaken to refer solely to a specific disability. It is also commonly believed that Paralympians are not elite athletes like Olympians. 

Para-rower Allie Reilly says otherwise.

She said in a social media post for Team USA that the term “Paralympics” only means “in parallel to the Olympics,” and all Olympic and Paralympic athletes share the same determination that deserves the same recognition. 

The Paralympics are valuable in creating an accepting and inclusive world. According to Carr, the athletes can be great role models for many people, and increased exposure for the games could help spread that positive message. 

“It’s very important for all different kinds of people to have representation,” Carr said. “To look on the TV and see someone like them –someone they relate to– is a big deal.”