Parapan Am Games – inclusion?

12 Aug

The Parapan Am Games started this past weekend in Toronto.

And I find myself wondering, again, why the “para” games are separated and later than the “non para” games.
The Pan Am Games came and went in Toronto amid much fanfare. Traffic was bad, but we heard about the medal count daily and there was a buzz in the air.  Tickets sales were great.

And then everyone left, and life returned to the usual.

And now, almost 2 weeks later, the Parapan Am Games have started.  It feels like the “country cousin” to the city slicker, like the “main event” has already come and gone.

And this makes me sad. And angry.

I used to be a competitive swimmer, so I know a little about the dedication, sacrifice, heartache and pain athletes go through to succeed at their sport.  What says athletics more than someone who beats the odds of a disability to compete and become a world class athlete in their sport?
Why do we continue to separate these athletes from – what one could assume the underlying message may still be – the “real” athletes and the “real” competition?

Why don’t the Pan Am Games (and the Olympics, and possibly other sporting events) practice inclusion and have both able bodied and differently abled athletes competing in events at the same time? Why can’t the 50m freestyle have two events on the same day? Why can’t the soccer field be shared over the time of the games? It would mean the Games are longer, but it might mean more of an equal exposure for (and greater understanding and appreciation of) differently abled athletes, the possibilities that exist for them, and the triumph of the human spirit.

And maybe we would see athletics differently – and funding would increase?
Just a thought.

See more.

Copyright 2015 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Facilitator, Consultant, Author on issues of Diversity and Inclusion.


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