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"What are the Paralymics?" by Ryan at

claireBy Ryan - August 30, 2012

I hardly know anything about the Paralympics.

Like, is the word even supposed to be capitalized?

Seriously, all I know at this point comes from commercials.  I am aware of the following events: biking, swimming, sitting volley-ball…I assume there is running, wheel-chair racing and possibly basketball.  Maybe gymnastics?  If it sounds like I’m the most ignorant and uninformed “disabled” person when it comes to the Paralympics, that’s because it’s probably true.

The other day my friend Jen (from BornJustRight) posted a link to an article and asked, “Who is your favorite Paralympic [athlete] who deserves Oscar Pistorius – Paralympic Athlete-level media attention?”  ”People have favorite paralympic athletes?” I thought.  And then I felt absolutely horrible for thinking that.

I don’t remember ever hearing about the Paralympics when I was younger.  I’ve always loved sports, but my heroes have all been of the normal variety.  The professionals.  It was always the NFL, MLB and NBA for me.  Those were the stars.  And it wasn’t as if I dis-liked differently-abled athletes; I literally didn’t know they existed!

Now here I am, turning thirty-five next month, and I’m just learning about the Paralympics.  It’s daunting!  I’ve started following some of them on Twitter.  I’ve gone to the website and read some blogs.  And while it’s still exciting to learn about, I still feel bad a lot of the time.  For instance, I have no idea how one would get on a path to become a paralympian.  Not a clue.  I don’t know the rules that govern qualifying or how difficult it is to make it.  And I feel like I should.  I feel like people expect me to know that for some reason.  I know that’s dumb, but that’s where my mind is at right now.

The fact of the matter is that I know hardly anything about a lot of things.  For instance, one of my friends makes lasers.  Literally.  I don’t know anything about that and I don’t feel bad about it.  I don’t have a connection to it.  Except that lasers are awesome, but that’s besides the point.  The point is, I feel like this is different because I have such an obvious (physical) connection to the Paralympics.  Because of that, I assume everyone thinks I should know about them.  But, do you know how many people have asked me directly about them?  None.

So, instead of feeling bad that I don’t know very much about the Paralympics, I’m going to enjoy learning about them.  I’m going to discover athletes to cheer for.  I’m going to be amazed by their stories.  I’m going to read the stories posted by my friends who know more than I do.  I’m going to allow my perception of “athletes” to be challenged.  I’m going to grow.  I’m going to watch people with bodies and abilities that are different than mine accomplish amazing things.  I’m going to be inspired.

And I’m going to go “Like” the Paralympics Facebook page.


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