For those who have been following my latest postings on this forum, I am sure you got the idea that I am campaigning to get NBC or another American broadcasting company to air the Paralympic Games from London later this month. The word “Paralympic” derives from the Greek preposition “para”, meaning beside or alongside, and the word “Olympic”, illustrating that the Paralympic Games are parallel to the Olympic Games. The two movements exist side-by-side. At least they should be.
Last week I got in contact with a nice fellow named Damon Thomas in Florida through a website that he created with the same goal in mind. He has a Facebook page dedicated to this, as well as an online petition that people can sign to show their support in bringing the games to Television in the US. Damon in Florida is then sending that petition to NBC to show them general public interest in the games. At that time Damon in Florida had 424 electronic signatures for his petition, and he was still searching for more. Spurred on by his enthusiasm, I acted, or as some people think, over reacted.
I am not one of those, “well we tried and failed” kind of people. I fight until every last avenue is blocked and every last peanut M&M is consumed. So I went further than signing Damon’s petition and encouraging others to do so as well. For instance, when I saw that NBA All-Star Shaquille O'Neal tweeted about one of the athletes competing in the games, (April Holmes, who is awesome). I retweeted this to those who follow Independence, Inc. and tweeted Mr. O’Neal back with the petition link. Not that I am a twitter expert, but I tweeted that link as best I could. Mostly to athletes that will be competing in the games.
But, I am more of an old fashioned Facebook kind of girl, so I chose that as my main megaphone. I posted on Coca-Cola’s Facebook page; I posted on GE’s page, Samsung’s page and other international sponsors of both the Olympic and Paralympic games that would let me. Nothing rude, nothing judgmental, just the petition link and a suggestion that since they supported over 5,000 hours of air time over two weeks on all the stations in the NBC network family for the Olympics, maybe they could see their way into showing us fellow Americans some highlights at least. After all the Paralympic games are going to be broadcasted all over the world reaching over 650 million people.
All of those Facebook posts were taken down almost immediately. The Coca-Cola one did last about three minutes as far as I can tell. And then just a few minutes after the post was removed I got a friend request from someone in Mexico who works for “The Real Thing” Company. Needless to say I did not accept this request. That is the last thing I need is big brother cola snooping around pictures of my husband and kids. Not that I have any issues with Coca-Cola, it’s that my family just doesn’t drink soda of any kind that often. Mostly we use it to clean off car battery corrosion. But all of this did get me thinking. Why is it that a multibillion international company like Coke does not know that you can set up your Facebook page so that not just anybody (like me) can post on their wall? I do that for the three pages that I admin. Maybe I should post that suggestion on their wall. I am sure Damon in Florida knows how to block postings on his page.
I got real old school and emailed several marketing people at McDonald’s. Most of them had an “out of office reply that said they would be returning on August 13th”. (The Monday after the Olympics). Nice work if you can get it. But I emailed away. Damon in Florida was counting on me.
The other day, I was reading an article about the plans for the Paralympic games and saw that the British band Coldplay was scheduled to play the closing ceremonies. Neat, I like Coldplay! Now, being the useless trivia nerd I am, remembered that the actress Gwyneth Paltrow is married to Coldplay’s front man Chris Martin. Neat, I like Gwyneth! My almost four year old daughter is a huge Ironman fan. Straight to ye ole Facebook I went and commented about the petition under a post she made about the Coldplay gig in London. Thanks for not taking it down Gwyneth. Damon in Florida thanks you too.
The games are going to be available online for live streaming from London which is great if you have a high speed internet connection and want to get up at 2:30 in the morning to watch Wichita native Nick Taylor compete in wheelchair tennis. But not so much if the majority of your sports viewing is recorded and watched after the kids and Sponge Bob have gone to bed.
After all of that exhaustive work and effort by me, Damon in Florida and countless others, NBC announced yesterday that they will be carrying some of the 2012 London Paralympic Games. According to the Team US Website, “Beginning on Aug. 29 and continuing through the conclusion of the Games on Sept. 9, U.S. Paralympics will provide 10 daily video highlights packages via its U.S. Paralympics YouTube channel. The videos will chronicle the competition, athlete stories and will also include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Videos chronicling the lead-up to the Games will also be available in late August.”
They go on to say “In addition to the online content, NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will air one-hour highlight shows on Sept. 4, 5, 6 and 11 at 7 p.m. EDT. Following the Paralympic Games, on Sept. 16, NBC will broadcast a 90 minute special from 2-3:30 p.m. EDT. All NBC and NBC Sports Network Paralympic highlight shows and specials will re-air on Universal Sports Network and UniversalSports.com.”
Not quite a Shaquille O’Neal slam dunk. And I don’t think Matt Lauer will be hosting the Today Show from London again, or Brian Williams the Nightly News, but a small victory. I would like to take credit for that, I cannot. But you know, Damon in Florida IS approaching 1300 electronic signatures on his petition.
Maybe we can get MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow to broadcast her show from London. She did, after all broadcast from The Free State Brewery last February. I’ll email Damon in Florida and get that petition going, stay tuned.
I encourage you to support ALL of our athletes in London this summer. “The Blade Runner”, Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee that ran the 400 and 4X 400 relay on carbon fiber blade legs for South Africa in the Olympics, started an awareness that the media picked up on. Now it is our turn to run with it.
Independence, Inc is a local nonprofit organization that provides assistance to people with disabilities through advocacy, peer support, training, transportation, community to live life independently. Brenda Brown is the Director of Development and Marketing for Independence, Inc.