Where to Watch the Paralympics — Hint: Good Luck in the U.S.

A few days ago I promised you I’d fill you in on where to watch the Paralympic Games. The good news is you can find them in several places. The bad news (if you live in the United States) is that NBC doesn’t see their value and has limited their coverage to a few television specials that are compilations of the highlights, which air after the Games are over.

Hopefully the uproar about the limited coverage of these Games will change some things in two years, when our next Paralympic Games roll around. Many other countries understand that people beyond the disabled community would like to view these Games.

Throughout England there are spots called Live Sites, where people are encouraged to gather around big screens set up in public places. Live Paralympic events continually play on these screens. They are located in every UK nation and region and many people gather with their friends to watch their favorite events. Extensive broadcast coverage packages will be run in the United Kingdom, France, and numerous other European, Asian, and South American countries. In the UK, Channel 4 is screening 150 hours of live coverage. In Australia, viewers will get roughly 100 hours.

Not so much here in the U.S.

NBC, the company that devoted hundreds of hours to coverage of the Olympic Games, has decided to air very little of the Paralympic Games. And good luck finding out when those specials air. It took hours of digging online to find any information. No mention of any kind on the NBC.com website. Not one link or headline on the NBC sports channel website. You can’t find viewer information even if you search the sites for it. You’d wonder if NBC were contracted to air the Paralympics at all.

On my home calendar I have notes on September 5th and 6th, to watch Paralympic Highlights at 5 p.m. on NBC Sports Network. I must have been given that information by a fellow amputee a few weeks ago and fortunately had the foresight to write it down. There is no hint online that this program will actually air. Good luck with that.

Just as sketchy is the note I have on the same calendar to watch the NBC Paralympic Special on September 16th (a full week after the Paralympics finish). Again, no hint on any NBC-related website that this is actually true.

The Paralympics are not a small deal. The competitions in London includes 4,200 athletes from 166 countries, with five major disability classifications for athletes.  In the mix of American athletes, 20 are disabled war veterans, and six were injured in combat. In case you wonder if anyone cares about these Games, lets point out that 2.4 million tickets were sold and most events are sold out.

Fortunately there are places you can see the events you care about. Your best bet in the U.S. is a great YouTube Channel devoted to live streaming and highlight footage. NBC assumed no one cared enough to watch the events on live television, or even updates in the evenings, so let’s show them how many people do care about the Paralympic Games. If you have a minute, click over to the YouTube channel and watch a few sports. The overwhelming number of page hits won’t lie.

On top of that, here’s a link to some bloggers sponsored by Samsung. They are mini videos of a variety of sports.

We’re all inspired by adorable gymnast Gabby Douglas, who represented the United States well in the Olympics. But why is her story any more inspiring than this one, of a guy who lost his legs in Afghanistan and is now competing in rowing in the Paralympic Games?  I’d bet there are hundreds of inspiring stories behind the disabled athletes who showed up in London. Stories that people would care about, then turn around and root for those athletes as they represented our country. I thought that’s what the media wanted — stories that people care about. They’ve got a gold mine right in front of them and they don’t even see it.

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