February 6, 2023
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ColumnsThe Tuck Rule

Paralympic team deserves attention that March Madness gets

While most Americans stressed over their March Madness brackets and plotted ways to watch as many games at the same time as possible, the U.S. Paralympic team took home an unprecedented nine medals in one day, bringing their total to 30.

The U.S. Olympic team may have underperformed in the Olympics, but the Paralympic team has done just the opposite, and their success has gone largely unnoticed. These 36 medals mark the most they have won since 2002, when they won 43, and the 13 golds are the most since 1998, when they won 13.

In the months leading up to the Olympics, it felt like no one could get away from an Olympic advertisement. They seemed to play on a loop over and over again, yet for the Paralympics, the advertisements were few and far between.

Although NBC is airing a record amount of Paralympics coverage, with 94 hours shown on television, this coverage isn’t as good as it seems. The action is mainly shown on the Olympic Channel, which requires a special cable package, or NBC during odd hours of the weekend, usually in the middle of the day when most people are out and about running errands or at work.

This doesn’t make it very easy for people who actually want to watch the Paralympics to catch coverage, and it is much harder for people who don’t know much about the games but who might be interested if they saw the Paralympics on TV.

Other news outlets aren’t doing much better. The New York Times is the only major American company covering the Paralympics, compared to dozens who sent big teams to cover the Olympics. Some news outlets are sharing the results in short articles or pushing features written before the Paralympics on certain athletes. But it isn’t enough, and this is a cheap way to get out of covering the events in person and giving them the attention they deserve.

The international media coverage of the Paralympics is on the rise, with 801 media members credentialed compared to just 132 in Sochi four years ago. However, the number of American credentials decreased from 57 to 33 between the same Olympics. Where is the American media, and why aren’t they interested? It’s expensive and time-consuming to send a team of reporters across the world for three weeks, but they do it for the Olympics, and the Paralympics should be no different. Even one reporter can make a huge difference.

These athletes work just as hard as Olympians, if not harder, to get to where they are. Yet the lack of coverage and interest is disgraceful. Their athletic abilities are remarkable, and their Olympic spirit in the face of adversity is incredible, and they deserve to be shown on prime time and have articles written about how amazing they are.

Danielle Allentuck can be reached at dallentuck@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @d_allentuck