Who said we were Paralympians?

Ian Herbert of The Independent has come up with his own alternative of the BBC Sports personality of the Year Award.

Whilst he has correctly and justifiably recognised the courageous and inspiring exploits of Gerry Hughes and his solo-circumnavigation of the globe this year he has unfortunately succumbed to the urban myth that Gerry is a Paralympic athlete.

The Deaf community knows that this is the incorrect title because there is no category for Deaf athletes in the Paralympics and that the Deaflympics are recognised by the IOC and the IPC as the equivalent event to the Paralympics.

So why does the media continue to make the same mistake over and over? One of the reasons for this is that the IOC and the IPC have a monopoly on ‘Disability Sport’ that gave birth to the urban myth of Deaf sport and the Paralympics in the ‘early days’ when they self-appointed themselves as guardians of all sport for disabled people. Over the last couple of decades, when the media has incorrectly attributed Deaf athletes to the Paralympics, nobody has corrected them.

Whose fault is that? Who should be scanning the media to make sure that the urban myth is not given life-blood? Should it be the ICSD and its national representatives? The problem is – resources – and motivation. Firstly, the IOC has been supporting the IPC with millions of dollars each year to enable them to appoint staff and promote the Paralympics. the ICSD cannot compete with this because the IOC who, for some unknown reason has decided that despite recognising the Deaflympics as an event as equal in stature to the Paralympics only provides a very small amount of funds.

The second problem for this, partly lies at the door of Deaf sport itself because its own motivation has been to continue to declare that Deaf people are not disabled. When the IPC was established, it was done so to govern disability sport under the IOC. The CISS agreed be a founder of the IPC on condition that it was able to continue to organise the World Games for the Deaf, which at the time was recognised as an Olympic -status event by the IOC. Almost immediately,  national organisations began to create problems for Deaf sport by not recognising the World games for the Deaf. The  motivation behind the establishment of the IPC for the majority of its members, was to get the fledgling Paralympics accepted by the IOC. They saw it as essential that the CISS should join them to give their cause credence.

For a few short years, the IPC was the governor of ‘disability sport’. But noting was done at the beginning to make sure that people respected the status of the World games for the Deaf and as a consequence the CISS and now the ICSD has been struggling.

In retrospect, when it withdrew from the IPC, the CISS should have insisted that the IOC and IPC make a declaration that the IPC was no longer the overall governor of Disability Sport, things might have turned out differently. Eventually, the IPC dropped the ‘disabled governance’ mantle and now correctly declare themselves to be the ‘global governing body of the Paralympic Movement”.

But this message has not been getting through to the media and the public at large. Deaf sport needs volunteers to come forwards and help to raise the media profile of the Deaflympic Movement.

If you are media savvy, media motivated and want to make a contribution to society – please get in touch with me at UK Deaf Sport as we really could do with your help to raise the media profile of the Deaflympic Movement here in the UK and overseas.

Ooops! I have made a mistake ! We not allowed to use derivatives of the word Deaflympic (Deaflympic Movement, Deaflympian, National Deaflympic Committee etc). The IOC only allows us to use the term Deaflympic in the title of the event itself…

That is why Ian Herbert should recognise Gerry Hughes as “The Disabled Sports Personality of 2013”

 

 

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