Disability sport and the media
In the previous chapter we examined the emergence and development of modern elite disability sport-specific competitions such as the Paralympic Games, as well the growing involvement of disabled people in mainstream sports events such as the Commonwealth Games. Accompanying the development and, in particular, the growing commercialization and professionalization of these events, there has been a correlative increase in the media coverage and attention devoted to those competitions and the athletes who participate in them. The central object of this chapter is to examine the changes and degrees of continuity that characterize the ways and extent to which the media (in particular, newspapers) in Britain and elsewhere have reported on the involvement of disabled athletes in the Paralympics and the 2002 Commonwealth Games. In doing so, it begins to question the largely uncritically held assumption that the growing media coverage of such competitions is a ‘positive’ development in the evolution of modern elite disability sport. It also suggests that, in many ways, such coverage may have done more to reinforce, than challenge, socially constructed stereotypical perceptions of impairment, disability and the sporting and non-sporting abilities of disabled people.