Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Desegregate the Special Olympics

I looked in a thesaurus in search of antonyms for the word special. The most humorous ones I found are humdrum, mediocre, ordinary, run of the mill, no great shakes, undistinctive, everyday, unexceptional and routine.

I did this because this year is the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics. Thus, I’m looking for a contrasting word to describe those other Olympics that come around every four years. Should I call them the humdrum Olympics? That’s funny but not accurate. It implies that those Olympics are boring compared to the Special Olympics. How about the mediocre Olympics? Inaccurate again. It suggests that those other Olympics are athletically inferior. That’s the problem with the word special when applied to cripples. Suddenly it takes on the opposite meaning. It becomes kind of an insult.

I guess I’ll call them the regular Olympics, for lack of a better word. It’s been a nice run for the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics has created a higher level of understanding, many people say. Maybe so, but now it’s time to create an even higher level of understanding by merging the Special Olympics with the regular Olympics.

Every regular Olympic competition ought to be required to include a Special Olympian. And I don’t mean Special Olympians wrestling each other. No way! I mean regular wrestling Special, mano a mano. And none of this condescending shit either, where the regular wrestler puts on a big heroic act and lets the Special guy pin him. I’m talking about full-out, testosterone-fueled, genuine wrestling. And if the Special guy gets thrown into the audience, well then we’ve created a higher level of understanding. That’s what it takes sometimes. Creating higher levels of understanding ain't easy. And if the regular guy gets thrown into the audience, even better!

Or we could require the regulars to engage the Specials on the Specials’ terms. Like let’s make all the basketball players get in wheelchairs. Then watch all those leaping superstar regulars like LeBron bumble all over the place while the real cripples zip around and make them dizzy. Who’s so fucking special now?

Or it could be a cooperative thing where a regular and a Special team up for the common good. Like luge could be done the same way some people do skydiving, where someone who has never jumped out of a plane is tied to a pro skydiver. The pro skydiver pulls the ripcord and does all the work and all the other person has to do is try not to shit their pants. Similarly, a Special Olympian can be tied to a regular Olympian on a luge and they can hurdle through the snowy channel together as one.

My point is there are a lot of ways to merge the Special Olympics and regular Olympics so let’s get on with it. Hey, this is 20-fucking-18! There’s no excuse for segregation.

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