As a keen Australian viewer of the Paralympic games, I have been struck by the poor performance of the USA team. As of today, the medal count for the Paralympic games is as follows:
|London Paralympics (Day nine) 2012
Compare this to the 2012 Olympics (able-bodied):
|London (able bodied) Olympics 2012
The issue is not only the move from first to sixth place. There are around 23 million Aussies, compared to approximately 312,000,000 Americans. In this light, the fact that Australians are beating (or anywhere near) the Americans in the Paralympic medal count raises important questions that have to be asked by American people. Did you know, for example, that the Australian wheelchair basketball teams, both men and women, beat the American wheelchair basketballers – a sport in which (stupidly high paid able-bodied) Americans are unbeatable?
Now, to be honest, I could care less about sporting medals. The issue is not “gold”, but what the relative success/failure of the Paralympic teams says about the disability support services that ground the performance of each country.
The truth is that I know very little about American social/disability support services. From the outside, however, it seems to be the case that the USA does not provide the same level of support for disabled people as is provided in other Western nations (it is also worth noting the Chinese Paralympic success). Now it may be that my analysis is in some way incorrect or incomplete. But if a community (or country) is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens, then this is it least suggestive of an issue that needs serious reflection.
Okay – bring on the hate mail!