Editor’s note: The author of this piece, David Kelly, works for ESPN in Affiliate Finance and is vice-president of the ENABLED ERG, ESPN’s Employee Resource Group. Part of ENABLED’s mission is to create employee programs, content and outreach that supports ESPN employees with challenges, and employees who are touched by those with challenges.
Through Sept. 12, ESPN International is presenting daily coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The Paralympic Games, which started Aug. 29, are airing on ESPN throughout the Caribbean and Spanish-speaking Latin America.
Here in the U.S., two daily, one-hour wrap up shows air on ESPN3 in primetime and some highlights will air on SportsCenter (a highlight from men’s table tennis was in the No. 1 spot in Tuesday’s SC Top 10).
The London 2012 Paralympic Games feature 4,200 athletes from 160 countries competing in 21 sports. Some of those athletes have been featured speakers for visits to our Bristol, Conn. campus as guests of ENABLED.
Alana Nichols, who won six medals (including three golds) in the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals this winter, also is competing in London as a star on the U.S. women’s wheelchair basketball team. The only woman to win gold medals in both the Summer and Winter Paralympics, Nichols was profiled on Front Row during her 2011 ESPN visit.
One ESPN employee especially invested in the Paralympics movement is Steve Raymond, senior vice president of national accounts for Disney and ESPN Networks. After spurring fundraising for a friend who was competing for the U.S. Disabled Ski Team a few years ago, Raymond eventually became the “Chef de Mission” — or honorary head — of the 2010 Winter Paralympic team.
“More people are interested in the Games, more countries are sending more athletes to it, and you see more athletes capable of competing at a high level,” said Raymond, who has attended three Games in person.
“Couple that with the ability to cover the event on many different platforms and you get large companies like [ESPN that] are trying to serve sports fans. It is a natural progression.”
Another friend of Raymond’s is Alison Jones, an accomplished amputee skier competing for the National Sports Center for the Disabled at Winter Park Ski Resort. Last week in London, Jones took bronze in the 3000M C-1, C-3 pursuit in cycling.
“I met [Jones] when she was 10 years old in the Winter Park Ski Program and she has been almost like a member of our family,” Raymond said.
“She’s got three other events to go. My whole family will be watching her, huddled around a computer; that one has a strong family tie for me.”
A record number of tickets have been sold for these Paralympic Games, coming on the heels of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Even Around The Horn‘s Woody Paige has noted the increased interest in the competition, as you’ll see in a segment from the Aug. 28 program below.