As the health care reform bill debate raged on CSPAN, I watched sitskiers and stand up skiers with torches wind their way down a hill during the Paralympic closing ceremonies. I heard an aboriginal throat singer accompany a blanket tossing event-a custom used for people to spot bison on the horizon- first of a woman standing up, then a Canadian paralympian who transferred from his wheelchair to the blanket, who flew higher.
I wasn't surprised that as he reached new heights, I had to lower the sound on CSPAN. The House of Representatives was louder than the aboriginal singer. The joyous, celebratory shouts of the enthusiastic crowd at the Paralympics vied for my attention. I turned up the sound on the paralympics.
And then there was Twitter. A virtual madhouse. Those opposed to the health care reform bill put up tweets suggesting the US will be like Canada.
Back to the Paralympic joy and Canadian hospitality. It all felt surreal.
The Paralympian on the moose skin blanket transferred back into his wheelchair. There was more dancing and singing, during which I wondered once again why so many people would never see this, why the Paralympics still struggles for sponsorships and media coverage. It had all the spectacle, all the joy, all the sports headlines and dramas that the Olympics had. And talent. And heart. And skill.
A follower on Twitter asked me why the closing ceremony wasn't televised in the US, just in Canada. I said I was watching it online, at Paralympic Sports TV. Not the same, of course, as it being on TV.
The health care reform bill passed at some point. The Paralympic flag was lowered, passed to Russia for Sochi 2014. A children's choir sang, their hope contagious.
In that spirit of hope, I told my follower that there was progress. But I know that the Paralympics needs more sponsorship, more athletes, and more grassroots efforts organizing the development of adaptive sports. Sir Craven spoke about those issues in this video.
Last night felt surreal for many reasons. I'd like to think it was the last time I have to watch a Paralympic closing ceremony online instead of on TV. If I was in Canada, that dream would have already been realized. I don't know how long it will be before the US and other countries catch up, but I do know this- if we all push sports, not only during the Paralympics but in between, it has a better chance of happening.
Our grassroots efforts toward promoting adaptive sports- both recreational and competitive- are growing need to grow even more and need our support in many ways. We can push sports even during the in between time until the next paralympics.