Everyone should watch the Olympics this August! They only come around every four years and they showcase many of the greatest athletes in the world. We will witness the return to the spotlight for Michael Phelps, the presumed dominance by Carmelo Anthony and Team USA in Men's Basketball and we will be exposed to sports we haven't seen on such a big stage before like Rugby Sevens!
But wait!! What happens after the Olympics are even better (in my opinion)! If you stay tuned on NBC for just a few weeks longer you will see the 2016 Summer Paralympics!! This is one of the world's largest adaptive sports events ever from September 7th to September 18th with "over 4000 adaptive athletes competing in 22 sports."
“These athletes are more than just Paralympians, they are sports heroes and ambassadors for all that the Paralympic Movement represents." -- Mark Levy Senior Vice President, Original Productions and Creative, NBC Sports Group
On Monday, July 18th, NBC premiered a TV special: "Road to Rio: 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials" which highlighted the path that many of the athletes have to go through to be expected for the Paralympic Games. It gave us a preview of Swimming, Track and Field and Cycling as well as what it took to get to the Summer Paralympics this year. Many athletes in many sports compete in 'Paralympic Trials' in June and July to qualify however some of the team sports like Wheelchair Rugby are selected earlier based on performances in other tournaments.
I've written articles in the past about Wheelchair Rugby and about Wheelchair Tennis, with both sports being featured in the coming Paralympics. While it's important to highlight what goes on outside of the Paralympic cycle, there isn't anything that compares to this event. We will see the ruthless nature of Wheelchair Rugby, the grace and determination that goes into Wheelchair Tennis and the pure uniqueness of a sport called Goalball (along with many other sports) all in one grand event!
This video wraps up just about everything you need to know about many adaptive and Paralympic athletes: "Yes I can." These athletes weren't given any help to get to where they are and they aren't receiving any special treatment because of who they are. What they are doing is proving to themselves and to the world that they can do anything they set their minds to and anything that anyone else can do and more.
I truly believe Paralympic and adaptive sports are some of the most interesting and exciting events to watch in the whole world and I am trying to spread that sentiment to the world. People will see this at the Paralympic Games. People will see this when a local organization has an event nearby. People will see this when a friend shares something cool on Facebook (that's why my family started Athletes Roll). But this isn't consistent. Unfortunately, adaptive sports don't have the recognition that other sports do. Right now you would never see them on ESPN, on magazine covers in the grocery store or plastered on a billboard in your nearest city. Fortunately there are many amazing organizations pushing for this change (and I believe it will come). But for now if you find this interesting in any way, I strongly encourage you to seek content about adaptive sports and adaptive events out. It would certainly mean a great deal to everyone involved and you may even find it entertaining!
Here's a pic from the awesome and intriguing sport of Goalball which is played by blind athletes who must block a ball based on their hearing. Anyways, I think this is really cool and I hope you do too...watch the Paralympics!!