So you’ve watched hours and hours of snowboarding, ice skating, and curling in the past few weeks and have finally erased all of the Olympic coverage from your DVR. But wait a minute. What if I told you that you can see some of those same sports performed on a professional level, by people who have had to overcome physical limitations? This is one of the many reasons I find watching the Paralympics even more inspiring than watching the regular version.
Two years ago I told you why you should be watching the Paralympics and sharing them with your kids. In that same article I told you a brief history of the Paralympic Games. Here’s a hint from that post: “They are called ‘para’ Olympics not because they are ‘almost’ the Olympics, but because they are parallel to the original games. They demonstrate beautifully how people of every ability can be as athletic as they want to be.”
As an amputee myself for the past ten years, I’ve seen first hand the way technology has drastically changed the lives of those of us who wear prosthetics in our daily lives. Those improvements have translated into the sporting world and new designs and solutions are guaranteed to make for more exciting Games this year.
The networks are finally hearing us, and offering many more hours of coverage on television. One of the catches is that some of the times are in the middle of the night. But hey, that’s why we have a DVR, right? We can tape the events, then watch them when we’re ready to watch, children snuggled on the couch next to us.
There are five Paralympic sports in the winter games – alpine skiing (including snowboarding, which is new this year), biathlon, cross-country skiing, wheelchair curling, and sled hockey. They will be covered for 48 of their 52 total hours of competition, in a span of 11 days. The sled hockey gold medal game will be broadcast on March 15, at 1 p.m. EST.
Scott Blakmun, the United States Olympic Committee chief executive officer, is thrilled with the added coverage of the Paralympic Games.
“Americans have always been interested in the inspiring stories of our Paralympians. With the Paralymic Games on television, Americans will be able to experience the thrill of the sport, which is what the Paralympic Movement is about. The Paralympic Games are not about disability. The Paralympic Games are about athletes competing to be the best in the world.”
We are not talking a small event here. The Sochi Games will feature nearly 700 athletes with a physical disability or visual impairment. Forty five countries will attend and participate in 72 medal events. Team USA will be sending 77 athletes, up from the 50 athletes we sent to Vancouver in 2010.
Because the viewing chart is so extensive, I’ll give you the link. Be sure to print it out, post it on your fridge, and set your DVR early.
Another way to enjoy the games with your kids is a trick I learned a long time ago with my four children. Make it personal. When a kid feels a personal connection to the athletes on the screen, they cheer louder, high-five harder, and feel it deeper. I have several of the Paralymic athletes on my Facebook feed. They are generally very accepting of new friends on Facebook, and share their journeys in their posts, with fun pictures included. They also have some fun websites. Here are a few we follow. We love our snowboarders, but have your kids pick the sports they enjoy most and choose an athlete to research from that list.
From my personal experience, kids are fascinated by prosthetics and how they work. Watching world-class athletes compete with their world-class hardware makes for some amazing family viewing. Have your kids pick a few athletes they want to cheer for. Get that red, white and blue stuff back out of the closet. It’s time to cheer for Team USA.