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Authors, audiences, and advocates ... but athletes first : blogging and the Paralympic Movement Bundon, Andrea

Abstract

When the Paralympic Movement is discussed, it is predominantly described as both an extension of the Olympic Movement and an uncorrupted version of Olympism. Yet to define the Paralympics only in reference to the Olympic Movement is to ignore its rich history and the unique factors that continue to inform the practice of disability sport. In this research, I collaborated with five Paralympians to create a blog that discussed disability sport and the Paralympic Movement. Collectively, the team published posts on disability sport-related topics and recruited readers to the site. Over a period of 14 months, the blog was visited 9,700 times by individuals in more than 90 countries, resulting in 339 posted comments. I conducted interviews with blog team members and with 20 individuals who were reading and commenting on the blog. Transcripts of the interviews as well as the posts and comments were thematically coded to address the following questions: •How and why do individuals choose to interact with the blog and what are the perceived outcomes of their participation? •How do blog users (readers and writers) understand the relation between the discussions occurring on the blog and their individual online and offline actions to promote, advocate for, and/or transform para-sport? •How do participants (readers and writers) define their involvement in the Paralympic Movement and what do participants perceive to be the ‘key’ issues that the social movement must address? Drawing on new social movement theory and literature into the use of online communication by social movements, I address how blogs are being employed within the Paralympic Movement and the value they have in promoting and advocating for disability sport. The findings discuss blogging as an opportunity for: (1) athletes as authors to share resources, discuss ideas, and provide support to other athletes, (2) members of the Paralympic movement to connect with various audiences and provide outsiders with a ‘window onto para-sport’, and (3) disability sport advocates to call out or challenge individuals, organizations, practices, and policies that are perceived to be discriminatory and as contributing to the marginalization of athletes with disabilities.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada

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