Part of the goal of the International Paralympic Committee is to “touch the heart of all people for a more equitable society” by exposing people to adaptive sports, with the goal of improving public views toward people with disabilities. The authors hypothesized that exposure to parasocial contact with images of athletes with disabilities could lead to a change in attitude during the formation of social identity, disrupting the tendency to view the population of individuals with physical disabilities as “other. ” This case study found that viewing a documentary of a Paralympic sprinter produced in the same style as an Olympic feature appeared to affect the emotional components of attitude formation, especially when compared with respondents who viewed a comparable documentary about an able-bodied athlete. These findings are of interest to proponents of adaptive sports, producers of adaptive-sports media, and marketers who use athletes with disabilities in advertising campaigns.
The authors are with Dept. of Journalism, University of Georgia, Athens, GA.