2008 Paralympics To Finally Be Seen

By Gary Norris Gray
Updated: November 7, 2008

Beijing 2008 Paralympics CALIFORNIA — My fellow disabled Americans, the American public will finally have an opportunity to watch the highlights of the Paralympic Games held in Beijing, China.

It will be aired the (NBC) National Broadcasting Company on Sunday at 2:30 P.M. Eastern Standard time.

And also the Universal Sports Television Network on beginning Monday, Nov. 10th though the 16, at 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.

It is important that you tune in to these games because it is perceived as a test by these networks. It will be a test to see if Americans will watch disabled athletes compete in the same events as non disabled athletes.

It seems very odd that NBC did not broadcast the Para Games live. This network has been known to do many fluff pieces and the Paraympic Games would be in this category.

ESPN also did not broadcast the games because of the hot baseball pennant races and the beginning of football season. NBC and Universal Sports taped many of the events in Beijing last month.

NBC did not inform the public until the weekend of Oct 26 that they would be re-broadcasting the highlights of the Paralympics. Both NBC and Universal Sports were concerned about the ratings, sponsors, and timing.

Both networks did not broadcast the games live like their non-disabled counterparts for the reasons above. The question remains when will the disabled athlete be a viable part of the sports world not an afterthought.

After a firestorm of letters from disabled athletes who wanted to see the United States team competed, NBC and Universal Sports responded. Many wanted to watch the United States woman’s basketball team beat the German National Team for a gold metal.

They also wanted to see the U.S. men’s basketball team capturing a bronze medal after losing to Great Britain in the quarterfinals.

Many also wanted to view the South African superstar Oscar Pistoris, who appeared on “60 Minutes” last summer. Pistoris won three more gold medals in track and field.

Those who did not see this movie, “Murderball”, you will enjoy the United States Wheelchair Rugby team, roughing up other players for the Para-Olympic gold metal.

Many will see the Chinese team win medals to become the first Asian team to ever win the Para-Olympic Games. This is a major step for China and their disabled citizens who were known as (Can-Fei) useless cripple.

The traditional attitudes of many Chinese were difficult to change. Two years after the government received the Olympic bid the Chinese National government passed laws to assist disabled Chinese.

Many disabled Chinese athletes then tried out for the team with the newly acquired assistance from the government. So this is a work still in progress.

The recent shift in Chinese attitudes about disabilities could be attributed to the public statements of former communist’s leader Deng Xiaoping’s son, Deng Pufang. Pufang became paralyzed after a fall from his room window during the Cultural Revolution.

He was the individual that insisted on civil rights for Chinese disabled citizens in 1983. He is the currently the head of the China Disabled Person Federation who co-sponsored the Para-games this fall.

Most Asian Countries are about 20 years behind the United States in Disabled Civil Rights. What the Chinese Government accomplished in the 2008 Para Olympic Games was very impressive

NBC and Universal Sports Network will break ground as they air these shows in November. It is imperative that we the American public support these shows or the networks will not air them in the future.