Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Special Olympics 2007: Mum's The Word

Never have I seen such a big sporting event, going so dismally unnoticed. Did you know that the Special Olympics 2007 was starting today in China? Neither have I.

I am online most of the day, and I keep myself updated in a huge variety of subjects - because this is my job. Usually, before a big sporting event, there's always some media buzz. Commentary, analysis, special stories - stuff like that. In this case, I don't remember seeing one glimpse of coverage of the Special Olympics - and I see a lot of internet sites every day.

Ironically enough, I found out about the Special Olympics while sitting in a restaurant which showed live coverage of the opening ceremony on TV. It took me a while to understand what I'm watching, because the sound was off. When I got back near a computer, I immediately set off to find some info about the event.

I opened up Yahoo News, Reuters, CNN and several Israeli sport sites - not a word. I peaked into my RSS feeds - nothing. I looked at Google News - nothing but football. It's as if the event doesn't even exist. Only a Google search helped me find the official site and some remote reports about the Special Olympics. Nothing on the all-famous Digg, either. ESPN has got some coverage, but the photos from the event mainly show the organizers and donors - and not the athletes themselves.

Yeah, sure. Individuals with intellectual disabilities swimming aren't as fascinating as Barry Bonds. They don't have blond hair and tits to show like Maria Sharapova. The Special Olympics aren't sexy enough. It's even a bit disturbing, isn't it? I mean, who wants to watch hundreds or RETARDS competing in sporting events, huh?!

My rant has no news in it - Special Olympics and Paralympics will never get 10% of the news coverage of a Superbowl or any other huge event. It has always been like that. The claim is that the media give the people "what they want to see". I say - that's the coward's excuse. If the media were brave and caring enough, they would also give the public what they SHOULD see - the OTHER, the DIFFERENT, the things that are not always pleasant to see, but are a part of our lives, whether we like it or not.

I am not naive nor stupid. I know all about Ratings, Unique Visitors, Exposure, Money - and a lot of other fancy words. The thing is, from time to time you need to learn to ignore the words and business rules.

It's not these athletes who are disabled. They are not the ones with the problem. We are - because we refuse to look at anything that might spoil our little bubble of comfort and illusions. We are the problem, because we prefer to watch the seemingly perfect, rather than stare reality in the face. We are the ones that need to jump over a very big hurdle - those guys at the Olympics already have. They are way ahead of us.