Reality. Really.

For some holiday in the past year, my daughter, Amy, gave me a subscription to ESPN – The Magazine.  She’s like I am … she loves to find gifts well-suited to the giftee and she knows, I am an avid sports fan.  My reaction to the magazine is mixed.   For one, sixty-eight year old men are not the target demographic of any sports media.  As I pointed out a long time ago, men are set in their buying ways by thirty-five, so the target demographic of sports advertisers in 18-34.  As goes advertising, goes ESPN the magazine.   Therefore, it sometimes spends too much time on silliness like fantasy sports or athlete fashions.   I even threw out one issue when, after noticing the cover photo was a naked man, I found many of the photos inside were, too.  It was the Body Issue.  Am I homophobic?  Absolutely not, but I have no desire to look at naked men, either.  But the other side of the coin is that ESPN often has very interesting articles about aspects of sports that you don’t find in the primary media and it’s one of those I want to talk about here on Top Sites Tuesday #165, the meme where we get to offer Two Thoughts on Tuesday.

On page 14 this month, we get to meet Matt Stutzman.  Who, you say?  Matt is a U.S. Paralympic Archer.  Born without arms, he competes by holding and drawing the bow with one foot … releasing the arrow is done with his jaw.  He will compete in the 2012 Paralympics in London at the end of this month.

Thought Number One on this Top Sites Tuesday is: Why don’t we hear more of these stories?   Why are they one page features in ESPN and sidebars to the so-called real stories?  Why aren’t the Paralympics prime time television?  Why do we try to ‘Keep Up with the Kardashians’ and follow the tweets of whining athlete millionaires, when there are people like Matt Stutzman that we could follow instead?  It’s not that there’s any shortage of stories … just Google overcoming disabilities and you’ll see.  Here’s one more I found on Living Inspired.   Dr. Cival Mills was in an auto accident just before finishing his medical internship and woke up unable to move anything but his eyes, a victim of Locked-In Syndrome.  He learned how to communicate with his eye movements, and later, after recovering movement of one thumb, he wrote a book using a gadget he invented.   He has since managed to regain movement in his neck, left arm and partial movement in his legs, completed a 350- mile bike ride across South Africa and returned to scuba diving.

The truth is, just as many of us are uncomfortable around the homeless, so, too are we uncomfortable around the disabled.  We don’t want to sit with them, we don’t want to talk with them and we certainly don’t want to watch them shoot arrows with their feet.  On the U.K. website, The Guardian, in an article titled, The able-bodied must face their anxiety about disability, Phillipa Perry describes an experiment in which able-bodied people were asked to sit next to a disabled person, half were first allowed to stare at the disabled person through a two-way mirror and half were not. All were then measured how closely they sat next to the disabled person. They found that those who were allowed to stare sat closer than those who were introduced without first having had that opportunity.  This suggests that wanting to avoid disabled people comes from a lack of previous exposure to them – there seems to be, if not a fear of the unknown or of difference, at least an anxiety about it. There is a conflict of what the able-bodied think they ought to feel about disabled people and the actual emotions experienced.

So.  Here’s Thought Number Two: Maybe if we took the time to watch the Paralympics … took the time to talk to disabled people we come across instead of pretending we don’t see them … followed their inspiring stories in the media … perhaps we’d come to feel comfortable around Matt Stutzman and Cival Mills, and avoid people like the Kardashians.  And … we’d be inspired!  Wouldn’t that be better?  Please say, Yes.

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5 Comments on “Reality. Really.”

  1. cherperz Says:

    I don’t understand the attraction to celebrities such as the Kardashians…period. As for why people aren’t more interested in seeking out inspiring stories and events such as Paralympics, I think you have summarized it quite well. The discomfort of the able bodied and how they interact with the disabled. Such a shame.

  2. territerri Says:

    Yes, yes, yes!

    I love this post. I love how much you just made me think outside the box about sports, athletes and how people of all kinds of abilities can be amazing. You’ve inspired me to watch the Paralympics.

  3. Wolfbernz Says:

    Hi Bud

    I agree to much time spent on the wrong athlete. Some are just amazing to me. Do to their abilities i think they have more drive than others.

    Nice post Bud, Clicks


  4. Trina Says:

    Great Post! Strong Point! I’m inspired 🙂

    I keep hearing amazing things about the paraolympics – great accomplishments, amazing new engineering… It’s awesome all the way around 🙂


  5. Coming East Says:

    Inspiring videos, Bud. Yesterday I saw a story on our local news about a young man, born without arms, who plays the guitar beautifully and is getting ready to release an album. As a former special ed teacher, I’m all for featuring people with disabilities in news stories and sports shows. Maybe people would stop complaining about their lives.

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