June 2, 2005

I’ve always had a problem with the Para Olympics. I don’t have a problem with the event itself though. Competing against your fellow man is one of the most human traits there are. We all want to compete, and we all want to win. I think it’s a good idea and it’s certainly better than showing you’re the best through warfare and cruise missiles. My problem is the whole idea of taking everyone with a handicap, training them to be the best at something, and then marginalising them even further by putting them in a competition where they can compete, but only against other handicapped people.

What a great idea that is, don’t you think? Lets say you’re in a wheelchair for whatever reason. You’ve been treated differently your whole life. And then one day you discover you have a knack for the javelin and not just a knack for it, you’re damn good at it. So you train, hard and long and then one day the news arrives that you’ve been selected for the South African Para Olympic Team. I wonder if any of them have thought, if only for a moment, “I’m this good in my field, but they still won’t let me play with the others. When do I get to play with the others?” you may think I’m taking the piss here but I’m not. I’m serious about this. The point I’m making is this. We’ve marginalised handicapped people for so long. Why then make a sporting event that marginalises them even further by letting them compete in open competition, but only against other handicapped people. We’re basically saying, “You’re good, damn good, but still not good enough to compete against the normal people.” And in the end, I’m pretty sure this was initially done with the best intentions, but now I think we do it to make ourselves feel better. We do this so we can say, “well at least they have something.” Some might say that it would be unfair to place handicapped people up against so called normal people. That to do this would be cruel. Maybe so, but answer me this: Has it ever been attempted? Has there ever been a fully unrestricted, totally mixed Olympics where absolutely everyone was allowed to compete, regardless of their physical or mental handicaps? Till that happens, even if it just happens once, that question can never be answered.

I believe in fair play for all. I believe that we’re all entitled to some form of acceptance and tolerance. I know it doesn’t happen. And for whatever reason, we seem to be continuing on this merry way. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if we’re going to have fair play, it should be for everyone, everywhere, at all times. Almost five years of the new millennium have passed us by. It’s time we start acting like grown-ups. I didn’t write this to offend anyone. I woke up this morning, and this was what I thought about. I hope it let you think about something, even if it’s that you need to get some food. I don’t know how you’re mind works. But I do know I need a snack. Have a good one y’all. Smile more, it helps. Till next time. Peace.