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Schaap: Invictus Games showcase therapeutic power of sport

EDITOR’S NOTE: Reporter/host Jeremy Schaap, whose work helped E:60 land two of ESPN’s nine Sports Emmy victories on Tuesday in New York, has covered a wide variety of news and events for the network. This week, his involvement in the Invictus Games 2016 has been a particularly special assignment. ESPN2’s coverage will continue tonight with a primetime special and tomorrow with the Closing Ceremony (7 p.m. ET both nights).

It’s easy to be cynical about the world of sports. These days, of course, it is an industry – whether you’re talking about the pros or the college kids, the Olympics or the World Cup. That doesn’t mean there aren’t terrific stories and there aren’t good reasons to be covering the games people play – but the Invictus Games are, obviously, different.

The Invictus Games…are about the therapeutic power of competing in sports and sending a message to the world at large.

This is sport in its purest form. These are athletes who have already overcome so much, pushing themselves in the arena of competition. And that makes for compelling storytelling, which is what we are striving for with our coverage.

If I might be so bold to speak for all of us on the Invictus team, to say that covering the Games is a tremendous honor is a massive understatement.

How can we not be humbled and moved by the warriors who are taking part? This is also our way of giving back, by telling their stories, by showcasing them, because from what I’ve seen the athletes are thrilled that the world is seeing them running, swimming, lifting and rowing, doing what they’re doing.

E:60's Jeremy Schaap holds his Sports Emmy for "Outstanding Long Feature: Ernie Johnson." (Marc Bryan-Brown Photography)
E:60’s Jeremy Schaap holds his Sports Emmy for “Outstanding Long Feature: Ernie Johnson.” (Marc Bryan-Brown Photography)

The Invictus Games, it’s become clear to me, are about the therapeutic power of competing in sports and sending a message to the world at large. The competitors want to be seen, to be watched, for the world to understand their capabilities and their potential.

I was honored, too, to serve as the moderator of the George W. Bush Institute’s symposium on addressing the invisible wounds of war.

President Bush, Prince Harry and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald were just a few of the governmental, military, business and healthcare leaders who took part. In addition to the U.S. and U.K., we had experts in the field from Canada, Australia and the Republic of Georgia participate.

Prince Harry has said that at the initial Invictus Games in 2014 the focus was on raising awareness about the wounded warriors whose injuries we can see; in Orlando the focus is on those feeling the devastating effects of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress.

The message is that they need to overcome their reluctance to seek care, and that healthcare providers must do a better job of providing that care when they do come forward. That’s one of the core missions of the Bush Institute, too.

I was lucky to get the chance to be part of a discussion which everyone hopes leads to better outcomes for those who are suffering, and their families.

Chris Fowler interviews HRH Prince Harry, founder of the Invictus Games, in the video below. If the video does not play on your device, click here.

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