Be A Good Sport – Not A Spoilsport!

When the Olympics first began, competitors used to start making their way there, months beforehand on foot from their homelands. The ‘lucky ones’ (who had the means) would ride on their four legged animals. Just so, they could take part. As long as there is a will, there will always be a way.

I keep being reminded of a healthy debate I contributed to some years ago on another forum – due to an age old record player which needs fixing, I have decided it was time for me to publically contribute my opinions.

The media, unfortunately, lacks the inclination to present both sides of the stories on the same piece of paper when everyone deserves to see the balanced argument with explanations, rather than just one side of the story brewing some ill feelings.

An ancient olympic statue


Here is a quote from the Paralympics FAQs:

“Why are deaf athletes excluded?

ParalympicsGB is non-discriminatory and applauds all disabled sportsmen and women who achieve on the world stage. Deaf sportsmen and women have taken part in their own Games ever since the International Silent Games (now the Deaflympics) of 1924. As a result deaf sports are not members of the BPA and are not funded in the same way as other NGBs. Athletes with a hearing impairment do compete in the Paralympic Games when the hearing loss is one of their impairments but when they also have another impairment which is classifiable at the Paralympic Games.”

As deafness is considered an impairment by the IPC, it therefore falls within their eligibility rules – so, shouldn’t there be a category/classification for that particular form of impairment?

But then again as someone rightly pointed out “Blindness is a sensory disability not physical yet they are in?”

Deaf people are not excluded – from the Olympics. As there are athletes past and present – as listed on this link: Deaf people in the Olympics.

Just that deaf people are sometimes stuck between a rock and a hard place, sometimes not of their own doing.

Deaflympics first held their event in 1924 because in the olden days, there was no deaf awareness at all within society. Which is understandable and it was within their rights. Yet now times have changed – so has technology. There are now starting light indicators and systems in place to alert those with deafness. The only problem I can spot is there is no “False Start” indicator (that I know of) to alert them of such – at my school, there would be a line dropped down into the swimming pool whenever there was a false start, to alert the swimmers.

Modern times require modern attitudes.

Here is a quote from a friend who wishes to remain anonymous:

 “Though international meets for Deaf athletes, under various titles – Deaf Olympics / Deaflympics, have existed many decades before the Paralympics. Had the Paras been formed first, I suspect they’d have already categorized Deaf / HI and not only under the current additional disabilities – as for those who competed within the CP classifications. Methinks main issue is communication within, and wanting to organise under the same facility and not as an afterthought (using speech-to-sign interpreters). Personally I think the Deaf should lobby to become a part of the Paras but with deaf organisers as in a slightly separate arm of the umbrella organisation. Majority of the Deaf around the world have experienced negative discrimination indirectly or otherwise, so understandable is the desire to perform as a collective on an equal footing, recognition by peers is that powerful. “

Regarding the lack of Paralympic funding or lack of deaf participants – the younger deaf sports generation needs to be told why this is so in the first place as the decision to remain separate from the Paralympics and have their own games, did not involve them. Let them have their choice and the right to use their voice to be “heard” what they would like to see happen. The older generation, just needs to be reminded that their decision to remain separate caused their funding to cease further.

There are foreign Paralympic participants from third world countries who have had no or very little funding and they have been driven to raise their own funding by doing sky diving jumps etc just so they can participate in the Paralympics. They are not complacent at all. Just google for them and you will find them – I did.

It is such a shame to see that people forget how good their life is, how free everything is. How available money and equipment is. That one’s decisions have consequences. They / we have all these things yet certain people still want more money to be handed over.

There is no excuse not to participate in the Olympics / Paralympics when one can / wants to do so – they have the means to treat one as an equal, as long as one wants to be treated so – it would be fantastic to participate in the ‘lympics AND have their own Deaflympics games. What’s so wrong with that? One would be a better sportsperson, in all senses.

I am a big fan of equality as you may have worked out already however I have spotted this paragraph on the Deaflympic website:

 “Unlike other games for athletes with disabilities, which are all directed by non-disabled officials, the Deaflympics are run by deaf people for deaf athletes.”

Is this not discriminatory? There will be hearing coaches/teachers for the deaf or qualified officials who have dealings with the deaf yet they have no right to be a part of it?

The Paralympics and the Olympics do allow deaf participants if they meet their sporting standards. They are not refusing them – they cannot. Otherwise the deaf would point and say ‘Discrimination’. We would all be the first to lobby for their access and rights had the Olympics and/or Paralympics denied the deaf. Turn the tables and what would happen?

There is not much to ask for in the games – do all the foreign nationals who are taking part need a language translator to be with them all the time? Are all the announcements translated in succession? Of course one will be provided if there is a meeting or interview etc if needed. Yet again, the translator is most likely to be a volunteer so using the expenses of hiring interpreters etc as an excuse, does not really fly. I used the example of foreign nationals because they have the most in common with us in the sense that we have difficulties with following/understanding speech/language – do the foreign nationals make an issue out of not being able to understand another foreign language? They cope. Just like the rest of us could / would. With a smile and a positive attitude. 🙂

There are other examples who require far more assistance than the deaf do yet the Deaflympics are the ones who are asking for the most assistance / to have certain events dedicated to them. They to refuse to participate because the committee said no to interpreters? Then they have the cheek to ask why they don’t get the same level of funding as the others who are taking part, regardless.

Do we need assistance to use the loo? To take a shower, to change our clothes? To be fed? To get from A – B?

People take life, limbs, senses for granted. It’s here with us now but it could be gone tomorrow. You never know.

The Olympic and Paralympic committee know what each and every disability needs or means. They cannot be fooled. They are treating everyone as an EQUAL as long as they want to be treated so.

I was told by someone from the Deaflympics that they have participants who have faster times than some of those in the ‘lympics – Let’s give them their moment of glory in the elite world games. Let’s give them the encouragement / support they so deserve?

We as deaf people get hearing aids automatically as very young children because of the wealthy country we live in, just because we can. Other deaf children in poorer countries have to do without. What annoys me most of all, is that there are certain people saying others get everything they want which in my eyes is rather cheeky and spitting the dummy. So much so they will even use the “deaf card” in order to get what they want.

Do people actually know how long a child goes without a wheelchair before it is their first set of wheels? Someone who once worked with me felt stuck in a manual wheelchair because there was no support or funds for her to have an electric one. She was working so she could save towards one.

Why should they have to experience all of that and be told ‘they get all the support they need, all the funding they want’?!

If that was the case, there would be many more Paralympians taking part.

An independent investigation is needed.

No one has taken the initiative to question what is being said and/or why, to think for themselves. To find out what’s on the other side of the coin – it is very easy to imitate when one has a close connection to certain people due to influence of a natural bias.

The deaf community have every right to have their own games as everyone else has their own inclusive communities. The deaf will always have their own Deaflympics to have the opportunity to shine / compete in all events, within the deaf community / world. It is their right. As the OAP’s and other like minded/bodied communities are entitled to their own.

Just I ask, for them to view the Olympics and the Paralympics as a place where everyone comes together as equals. No one is asking them to drop their own games or refusing them participation.

Fitness levels are filtered out and dictates who wins a medal. It is not the impairment / disability although they will be filtered into the appropriate categories.

It is the future deaf generation that we need to concentrate on, to help them think along the same lines – equality, integration – which needs to be incorporated as soon as possible.

Be a good sport – not a spoilsport!

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

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