I am saddened by the current state of media coverage that disabled sports people attract compared with their able-bodied counterparts. Attitudes are changing though, slowly. After New Zealand's successful campaign at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, Labour’s spokesperson for Broadcasting, Clare Curran, lambasted NZ on Air for funding reality programmes like X-Factor and New Zealand’s Got Talent ahead of live Paralympic sports coverage.[wb 1] A dialogue has recently begun in Australia, a year to the day (local time) after the opening of the 2012 Paralympics, which calls for government and corporate Australia to rethink their strategy concerning paralympic sports coverage.[wb 2]
The current state of the Wikimedia Foundation's projects in regards to this inequality seems to mirror that of more traditional media forms, such as television coverage. Compare, for example, the Wikipedia page about New Zealand's national wheelchair rugby team, the Wheel Blacks; with the Wikipedia page about New Zealand's national rugby union team, the All Blacks. The Wheel Blacks page is still a stub! The difference in the results of a search for the "Wheel Blacks" on WikiNews compared to a similar search for the "All Blacks" on WikiNews is striking. Similar results can be seen on Wikimedia Commons when comparing the wheelchair rugby category with the rugby union category.
As my wife and I have attended several of the live Wheel Blacks games locally, and we consider ourselves mad keen fans of the team, I am interested in redressing this inequality across a range of WMF projects. I probably can't bring about a national or international change in attitude to disabled sports, but I can do what little I can to help, by contributing more content about a team and a sport that I have a passion for. I intend to take this as far as I can in my own sphere of influence, such as by seeking permission from New Zealand Wheelchair Rugby (NZWR) to photograph and publish to Commons some images of the Wheel Blacks in action at games; reporting on current and future fixtures for the team on WikiNews, and tackling the stub that is the Wheel Blacks page on Wikipedia.
- Update: I participated in the Paralympics Workshop GLAM event. It was great to see fellow Wikipedians in Australia getting stuck in to editing articles specifically about Murderball, and there were a lot of constructive additions made during the event to NZ-specific articles too, including the Wheel Blacks page.
- The real New Zealand does have talent, Scoop, 14-Sep-2012
- APC calls time on inequality one year since London 2012, Sports Business Insider, 30-Aug-2013