Why has the media given more airtime to disabled sport than in previous times?

The media has played a big part in making people a lot more aware of disabled sport compared to 40 years ago when disabled sport was never even considered to be something worth watching. One of the main reasons towards disabled sports success was the London 2012 Paralympics. ‘Some 2.7 million Paralympics tickets have been sold – beating targets by 200,000 and predicted sales by £10m.’ This implies that people are beginning to show more interest in disabled sport. This encourages the media to cover sporting events with disabled individuals due to the extra demand to watch this type of sport as society increases its awareness and interest in disabled sport.

However, an article from the BBC was recently published questioning the long-term impact of the Paralympic legacy. ‘A year on from the Paralympics, the event’s legacy “hangs in the balance” as attitudes towards disabled people fail to improve.’ This suggests that society did take some interest in the leading disabled sports events however over time appear to have lost that interest. ‘In a survey of more than 1000 disabled UK adults, 81% say attitudes towards them have not improved while more than one in five believes life has got worse in the 12 months since the Games.’ This tells us that the public has now dropped their curiosity in disabled sport, which may then have on effect on the amount of airtime the media choose to assign to disabled sport.

However, in 2011, an article was published by The Guardian saying ‘the proportion of disabled people is rising and now represents 1 billion people – 15% of the global population.’ This significant increase in the disabled population in relation to the rest of society could suggest that the percentage of people taking part in disabled sport is also rising giving the media more of an incentive to cover events or games. ‘More disabled people in Wales are taking part in sport than ever before, according to new figures’. This implies that the percentage of disabled people taking part in disabled sport is rising and, therefore, increasing awareness in society which may contribute to the media giving more airtime to disabled sport.

Another consideration is effect of global warfare, and the media coverage of significant conflicts, which have highlighted the tragic effects of war when soldiers are injured and become disabled through their injuries. ‘One of the main developments in Paralympic sport across the world in recent years has been the number of injured service personnel becoming involved.’ Since 2001 the United Nations has been at war with Afghanistan and Iraq and from then ‘at least 39,914’ soldiers have been injured whilst fighting – increasing the amount of disabled population. As soldiers are trained to fight they have to keep themselves fit by maintaining regular exercise, but as they get injured they may not be able to serve in wars but are disciplined to continue with this need to exercise on a consistent and regular basis. Jon-Allen Butterworth, ‘The 26-year-old lost his left arm in a rocket attack in Basra in 2007 while serving with the RAF as a weapons technician’ then decided to take up cycling and ‘he won gold and broke the world record in the C5 1km time trial at his first World Championships in 2011 and repeated the feat earlier this year in Los Angeles. He is set to compete in five events in London – the kilo, 4km pursuit and team sprint on the track and the road race and time trial at Brands Hatch.’

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2 thoughts on “Why has the media given more airtime to disabled sport than in previous times?

  1. I really like how you have included so many quotes and statistics from different sources in this. You’ve covered a variety of media- print and tv as well as general surveys, and I think that has strengthened your work straight away. I also enjoyed reading how you’ve included an anecdote in your work- about the weapons technician- I think this adds a more inspirational tone to part of your research. You could include more media sources in your next draft- for example radio. Which radio stations broadcasted information about the 2012 paralympics? Which kinds of people tune in to that radio? Which news broadcasters had stories about paralympics and their champions and how long/in how much depth did the stories go?

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