Why Watching the Paralympics Matters
I have heard a lot of discussion regarding the Paralympics and the television coverage (or lack thereof). What I believe we have to understand is that these companies do not see us as individuals with disabilities. They see us as viewers. As much as we would like to think of ourselves as a group that deserves attention, these companies are looking through a profit-minded lens. They see spreadsheets with revenue dollars, not wheelchair users.
Therefore, I feel we as disabled people have one job to do and that is to watch these games! We need to share hashtags, Twitter posts, Facebook conversations and other online conversations about the Paralympic games. We cannot go into these games with a mindset that we are being underserved and ignored, or irritated because they are only on certain channels. We should look at this as an opportunity to show through viewership and social media that the coverage of these games does matter, and there is indeed a market for them.
The market executives care about eyes on screens so they can sell time to an advertiser. You are not a disabled person to them. You are a consumer, just like everyone else in the world. What they want are your eyes on a screen. And they do not really care about your abilities or lack thereof. These companies need to take viewer numbers back to advertisers and say to them, “You need to sponsor the Paralympics because look at the viewership. The social media response. The hashtag. The friends being made. The conversation on the web.”
So this is where we as a disabled community come in. We need to watch! Then add a friend on Facebook, hashtag an article, share a post, tell a corporation you appreciate their advertisement. If you love your wheelchair, post about it and like their page. If you use a service, tell that company. If you love a product, tell them you saw their ad on Paralympic coverage. Use the tools at your disposal to make these games relevant to the people who can sponsor them.
We can make a difference. In fact, it is our time to shine! We can prove there is a market for Paralympic sports by using the resources we have. As our athletes go for gold, let us as a community of individuals with disabilities go for gold by proving we are a viable segment of society that deserves recognition. All we have to do is watch!
Getty image by Eric Schroeder.