Talk Description to Me

Episode 66 - The Paralympics

August 28, 2021 Christine Malec and JJ Hunt Season 2 Episode 66
Talk Description to Me
Episode 66 - The Paralympics
Chapters
1:20
Athletic wheelchairs
9:06
Wheelchair Rugby
14:01
Body types
17:00
Wheelchair tennis
20:18
Prosthetic running blades
26:59
Goalball!
Talk Description to Me
Episode 66 - The Paralympics
Aug 28, 2021 Season 2 Episode 66
Christine Malec and JJ Hunt

The Paralympics are underway, giving us a new slate of athletic heroes to cheer on. But ParaSports sports receive limited coverage between international tournaments, and that makes them a bit harder to follow. To help fill in those gaps, Christine and JJ break down the visuals of some popular Paralympic sports, including wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball, running events, and goalball. They talk gear, skills, body types, and debate the merits of diving across a gymnasium floor to block bell-filled-balls with your face! 

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/TalkDescriptionToMe)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The Paralympics are underway, giving us a new slate of athletic heroes to cheer on. But ParaSports sports receive limited coverage between international tournaments, and that makes them a bit harder to follow. To help fill in those gaps, Christine and JJ break down the visuals of some popular Paralympic sports, including wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball, running events, and goalball. They talk gear, skills, body types, and debate the merits of diving across a gymnasium floor to block bell-filled-balls with your face! 

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/TalkDescriptionToMe)

JJ Hunt:

Talk description to me with Christine Malec and JJ Hunt.

Christine Malec:

Hi, I'm Christine Malec.

JJ Hunt:

And I'm JJ Hunt. This is talk description to me with the visuals of current events and the world around us get hashed out in description rich conversations.

Christine Malec:

This week, we are going to talk about the Paralympic Games. And this episode came out of a request we got from Tiffany via email. And she, like me has a lot of questions about the visuals of the games, how they work, some of the adaptations involved. And so the games got underway on August 24, and will run until September 5. So we thought we'd break down some of the visuals of how the games unfold and what the sports look like for for a spectator. So, JJ, does it make sense to start with maybe some of the hardware involved?

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, I think so if we take a look at some of the hardware that'll help us understand the movement and flow of the athletes and some of the sports and yeah, I think it's a good that's a good foundation for a conversation. Of course, it's important to remember that the gear is only there to support the athletes. And ultimately, the athletes are the focus of the games in this episode. But having it having an understanding of some of the gear I think will help us understand the flow of the games. So shall we start with the with wheelchairs?

Christine Malec:

Yeah, yeah that's great.

JJ Hunt:

Okay. So the standard wheelchair .Let's start with the standard wheelchair. So then we can figure out the adaptations for, for the different athletes in different sports. So a standard wheelchair. Obviously, there's lots of customizations and variations, but a standard manual wheelchair is a fairly boxy affair. There's a flat seat and back at a 90 degree angles, generally padded armrests at the side with the handles pointing back off the top of the back of the seat. There are two large wheels one on either side of the seat, and they approach the height of the armrests. And these go straight up and down so they're perpendicular to the floor. each wheel is actually kind of two wheels in one so there's a tire, that's what makes contact with the ground and that's on the inside of the chair closest to the person seated in it. And there's a slightly smaller hub mounted on the outside so it's it's a little bit smaller than the tire on which it sits on which it's it's it's attached. And that's for gripping so the user can propel and maneuver themselves using the hub and they're not actually touching the tire itself. The frame of a standard wheelchair is a series of sturdy metal tubes. And attached to that frame. There are two small front wheels, the big wheels are fixed, but the front wheels or casters they can rotate fully in this adds to the mobility, there are two front rests between the front those little two front caster wheels. These kind of resemble like flaps on hinges, and they can be flipped out of the way to make room for people as they get in and out of chairs. So that's a standard wheelchair, the athletic or sports wheelchairs that have some pretty important differences. They're modified for each sport. Sometimes there are different modified modifications for players within a sport. But there are a lot of overlapping similarities. So the first thing that is almost universal is the back in an athletic or sports wheelchair, the back is much much shorter. So instead of being shoulder height, athletic chairs have short backs that barely cover the lower back and sometimes they have no back at all, if if an athlete is playing in a sport where they need to lean really far back or you know, honestly be able to come to get their bodies parallel to the ground, they're not going to put any back on their chair. So sometimes no back at all just a seat. The two big wheels on either side of the chair are not perpendicular to the ground, they're angled in toward the body. So this makes a much wider base and it's a much much much more stable. So all athletic chairs have these angled wheels, wider The wider the floor angled in toward the body, and sometimes on an athletic chair, the spokes of the wheels. They are covered. So sometimes they have regular spokes like in a traditional manual chair. So in tennis, most of the athletes have just regular spokes on their chairs and actually the athletes will pop their extra balls between the spokes when they're serving. So you know they'll serve once they'll need another ball, they'll reach in, they'll pull a ball out The spokes of their chair and they'll they'll serve again. But tennis players who don't use chairs actually do a very similar thing. They tuck an extra ball up the leg of their spandex shorts. So there's a there's a real similarity in the need for the extra ball and then just the way you keep it at your side. Some chairs don't have spokes or they have spokes that are covered. They're covered by these solid discs, that they're like slightly convex discs, they look like Captain America's shield. These are put on the spokes of a chair in wheelchair rugby. Because there are a lot of collisions, you don't want to get rammed up in those fairly delicate thin metal spokes, the smaller caster wheels, they they're a little bit different with athletic chairs, the caster wheels that are in front, on a manual wheelchair. Sometimes there are two at the front and an athletic chair and one in the back. Sometimes there are two on the front and two in the back. The athletic chairs need different stability, they need the ability to move around. So these casters wheels on athletic chairs are very small, and really smooth. So they're kind of closer to like a kid's scooter wheel, or like an inline skate wheel very small, very tight, and really maneuverable. Like I said, sometimes to the front, two in the back, sometimes two at the front, one centered in the back. And instead of large panel foot rests that that you have on the standard manual chair that can flip back and get out of the way. Athletic chairs often will have like just a foot rest bar. This is usually rigid made from the same frame tubes that the that the rest of the frame is made out of. And in contact sports like like basketball and really rugby, that foot rest is often part of the curved bar that actually acts like a front bumper. And in almost all sports that involve wheelchairs, the athletes are strapped into the chair. So the athlete and the chair move together, whether they are being propelled forward or being knocked over. The athlete and the chair are held together by straps.

Christine Malec:

I'm wondering about collisions because if the wheels are oriented so that the birther broader at the base, I assume the athletes are adept at maneuvering With that in mind, but you must get a lot of bumps in collisions of the base of the wheels.

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, that does happen an awful lot, especially in sports where that's intended like in in wheelchair rugby, those collisions are very much part of part of the game. And so you are smacking into the wheels You are the wheelchairs in some of the wheelchairs are actually designed to have almost hooks on the front so that you can hook the big wheels and kind of trap them if you want to, like you know, keep your opponent from moving for the base is wider, but they're also just smaller chairs. They're pretty tight. They're pretty nimble. And these athletes that that use their chairs are incredibly adept at maneuvering and getting out of those sticky situations. So even if there's a jam up in, like under the basket and wheelchair basketball and, you know, you've got four or five players on each team in the key under the net, and they're, you know, trying to jostle for space. It is quite impressive how athletes are able to maneuver around, get out of those tangley situations, even with the wheels angled out at the bottom with the pretty wide base.

Christine Malec:

You mentioned that the athletes are strapped in so if they go over they you know the whole chair and the person goes over together. Is that common for a chair to go over?

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, especially in wheelchair rugby. Wheelchair rugby is pretty intense sport. Let's just talk about wheelchair rugby in general so that we get a sense of just how often these collisions happen and players get like really battered about so wheelchair rugby is played on a standard basketball court. But there's a center line and end to end lines and there are orange pylon goal markers on both end lines to mark the big wide goal area. They use an overinflated volleyball in wheelchair rugby, and it's mixed teams men and women for players precise on the court at any given time. So there's a little bit more room than in wheelchair basketball, which is five players aside. So wheelchair rugby, it's easier to build up speed, so those collisions are even greater. And the whole point of the game is to block your opponents with your body or chair you put yourself between the attacker with the ball and the goal line or their teammates. So you are keeping them from crossing the goal line with the ball. There are lots of chair collisions. That is very much the point. This sport was Originally called murderball for a reason.

Christine Malec:

Ho ho!

JJ Hunt:

The athletes slam their chairs into each other, they nudge and they steer their opponents off course. And my understanding is that the chair contact is very much allowed, except for dangerous hits like you can't ram someone from behind. But body contact is not. So you can't, for example, reach out and shove an opponent with your arm, for example, that's not allowed. Instead, you're to ram your chair into their chair. So the rugby wheelchair chairs themselves, they look like Mad Max versions of basketball wheelchairs, they are scratched, they are bashed up, they are dented. And those spoke covers that I talked about those like shields that are over the spokes, they make them look much more solid and menacing as Lego as vehicles. They're incredibly low and, and intimidating. And so attackers who would so if you are someone who is going to often get the ball and go on the attack, you're going to have a compact chair that's got a shorter rounded bumper at the front. And this, this enables greater speed and more nimble mobility. If you are a defender, someone who is trying to keep attackers away from the goal line, you're going to have a longer chair with a foot rest bumper that extends out kind of like the jaw line cage on a football helmet. And that is for ramming and trapping the attackers wheel. So because it sticks out, not only can you ram hard, but you can then position yourself in such a way that you can catch the big main wheels of your opponent's chair. So those chairs are really designed to, you know, to either give you speed or you know, give you an ability to trap your opponent. And like I said, players are strapped into their chairs. When they are hit hard, the entire chair will tip over, they'll flip sideways, they'll flip backwards, they flip all over the place. And some of these collisions are really hard, you can build up steam, like I don't know if you've ever been to on a playground and you've been on a swing in a playground, you know how much extra momentum you can get by rocking your body back and forth, back and forth. So what players do is they will rock their body before making contact, they'll lean into their hits, so they can really get their weight behind them. Oh, these are big players, right like so that. I mean, it's hard to say the typical body of a player because you know, it's it's it's a pretty wide variety, but it is fair to say that the athletes are often bruisers. Thick bodies, or big trunks beefy arms. There's a fair number of tattoos on these athletes. They tend to be big solid men and women in the standard uniform by the way is like a tank top or a sleeveless shirt. Some players have like a like a padded or an unpadded sleeve that is pulled up an arm.

Christine Malec:

Huck huck. Maybe their hands are taped up. But they otherwise are just wearing like tank tops or sleeveless shirts, no helmets, nothing like that. So when they get knocked over they have to you know make sure that their heads don't slam back and and and you know I've seen some shots where they get where a player gets knocked over backwards and you can imagine your chair tipping backwards you got to make sure your hair your head doesn't slam back into the under the floor behind you. It's really yeah and meanwhile all around you are these menacing chairs that are bashed up - And they probably look a lot different from the ground too!

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, they don't look as small and compact when they're rolling toward your head at an incredible velocity.

Christine Malec:

Ha ha!

JJ Hunt:

It's a really wild, quite fantastically vicious sport. It's pretty, it's pretty cool.

Christine Malec:

I'm really curious about the body development of athletes and I think Olympic rugby players would probably be beefy in a particular way and we've talked about athletes before and football and soccer. Is there a way in which the muscle development looks different for Paralympians?

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, definitely because you're using your body in a different way you are developing muscles in a different way. So with I mean, you're absolutely right. Rugby athletes, whether in a chair, or or running are tend to be bigger, they tend to be beefy or they tend to be just strong all around thick bodies. It is particularly the case with wheelchair rugby athletes that their trunk is thick. Their torso is thick, broad chests, big arms, and that's the case for wheelchair basketball players as well. If you are trying to make One of those shots from a seated position, there's an incredible amount of upper body and core strength required. I mean, athletes propel themselves, they maneuver they shoot and they block and in wheelchair basketball, all with their arms and their core, they extend forward, they lean backwards, they reach to the side and they reach you very, very, very high. So when a wheelchair basketball player is defending, so someone is shooting and you're trying to block their shot, a wheelchair basketball player will often tip onto the side of the chair so that one wheel will lift off of the ground off the court. And then if you extend the arm on the raised side, that gives you an extra couple of inches to block the shot. You can imagine the strength and dexterity that's required to tip your chair, keep it balanced, reach up with the raised arm block the shot, it's it's an incredible amount of strength that's coming from the core. So players who stand to take their shots, they get a lot of that additional strength from their length from their legs, pardon me. So like the power will come up the legs into the hips. And then the shot is the last thing is is is the arm and shoulder strength. But if you are shooting from a seated position, all of that power has to come from the core. So basketball, wheelchair basketball athletes tend to be again a bit thicker around the trunk, not as wide as and beefy as a wheelchair rugby player but pretty broad across the chest. And they have similarly thick arms and shoulders. They're not necessarily cut and well defined. Like they don't have to show muscles that NBA players often have. These are thick, solid working muscles that it's a bit of a difference visually, the way that strength plays out. It's not about the definition. It's about it's about bulk with with wheelchair basketball players and wheelchair rugby players.

Christine Malec:

So there's other wheelchair sports as well. What does the wheelchair tennis look like?

JJ Hunt:

So wheelchair tennis is much lighter and more delicate than rugby, or even basketball. So the chairs themselves, they look lighter, there's just less to them. They they don't have spoke protectors, they don't have ramming foot rests, there's no bumpers at all. They're really tight and they look quite light and swift. And that's in no small part because of the way the athletes are moving them around the court. They are very quick, very nimble, again strapped into the chairs. And the athletes do once again a lot of leaning a lot of reaching a lot of extending the arms. So players get their chairs very close to where they need to be fair shot, but they often have to lean back or forward at the very last second to make final adjustments. So the ball is often hit from what many people would consider imperfect angles, right, it's a little bit more difficult to get yourself into perfect position so that your arm is extended for the maximum power and strength in that shot. Instead to get that final bit of positioning you players seem to achieve that by leaning in leaning out reaching up as opposed to moving the chair into exact position. So depending on where a player is on the court, and if they're coming off a backhand or forehand players are often they need to spin quickly in their chairs to reposition before their shot is returned. I was amazed when watching wheelchair tennis, just how much spinning is actually done. So often. Let's say the player hits the ball, they will quickly spin and reposition so that when the ball is returned, they're more or less in the right place. So the ball is returned, they've gotten themselves more or less into the into the right position. But you know the ball is now going off to the right. So the wheel themselves towards the ball using either one hand or both hands, depending on how far and how fast they have to go to approach the ball. But again, the racket is always in one of those hands. So they might be pushing and and propelling themselves with racket in hand, they get themselves more or less into position. But if they want a forehand instead of a backhand, they might have to spin again. So maybe you're spending once or twice during your positioning, get close enough to swing the racket you lean in, you lean out whatever you need to do, you whack the ball, return it and then you almost always immediately spin around against the you get yourself back into position and over and over. So a player might need to spin quickly. Once or twice on every volley. It's a really spinning nimbly moving around positioning kind of sport. It Again, quite different and the athletes tend to be much leaner This is you're burning an awful lot of fat. When you're moving around that much when you're spinning around that much. You need to be nimble. So again, a lot of there's still a lot of core strength. There's still an awful lot of arm strength, but because you're Burning so much energy, and you're playing outside where it's rippin hot, you're burning a lot of sweat burning a lot of fat. So they tend to be a little bit their bodies tend to be a little bit more defined a little bit more cleanly muscular than the beef Enos of a of a basketball player and certainly of a wheelchair rugby player.

Christine Malec:

Let's talk track and field and I'm interested in the sports that blind athletes might gravitate to more. So what do you see in the track and field competitions.

JJ Hunt:

So there are many different sports in the track and field category, lots of different athletes with different disabilities. And on the track side, there are sprints, there are middle distances, long distances and relays. And on the field side, there are jumps and throws. And you know, some of the the athletes use different kinds of technology to compete. I mean, everything from you know, from running blades, prosthetic legs, to guides, if you are an athlete, a blind athlete who is running, you will run with a guide. And so you're running side by side with your guide. It's an you know, incredible pacing and partnership. To watch a blind runner run with a guide side by side, they're provided a little bit more room on the track, and they run side by side, these pairs crossing the finish line at the same time. It's a pretty impressive looking feat to be done side by side. For me the one of the things that kind of crosses over all of these different events, because there's so many different track and field events, we can't possibly describe them all. But one thing that that you see over and over again, are these running blades, the prosthetic running legs that are used by track athletes, jumpers throwers, sometimes it's on one leg, sometimes the blade is on, too. Sometimes it's above the knee sometimes below. They're really interesting, fascinating pieces of technology. So in essence, these running blades, these prosthetic running legs are carbon fiber blades that kind of resemble short, bent skis like a cross country ski or a downhill ski, but they have squared off tips.

Christine Malec:

Oh!

JJ Hunt:

And they connect to the body in different ways. So generally, there's some kind of a high tech cup that the athletes legs slips into, and the blade is attached at the back or off of the bottom of the cup. And the blades, the shapes vary a little bit, but generally they go down, then they bend backwards, and then they curve back under the athlete to make contact with the ground. So picture like an upside down question mark. So it goes down, then there's a C shape that curves to the back and then back under the athlete. And these because of the material, this carbon fiber material, they have quite a bit of spring to them a bit of a bounce. That's the point. And the gait of a runner changes depending on what kind of prosthetic they're wearing. And so if you're wearing one of these blades that attaches above the knee, or one that attaches below the knee, it significantly changes the way the look of your run that your gait. So if you're an athlete like Raygas Woods of the US, who's a long jumper and runs the 200 meter. He uses what are basically straight posts with no joints at the knee and then a blade at the lower leg, so he doesn't have that knee joint, and when he runs when he gets going, there's a real swinging action to his legs. So the hips swivel the legs swing out and then pull back in swing out and pullback in arms pumping head fairly stationary, but the hips and legs have this kind of swinging action to the swinging gate for runners that have below the knee prosthetic blades. The gait is much more linear, you have that straight ahead focus the head is locked into place. Arms are pumping and the gait is identical whether you are wearing of the one prosthetic below the knee, two blades, one on either leg, or frankly the gate is almost the same if you're not wearing prosthetics at all. I was marveling I was checking out some videos on my phone. And and sometimes I couldn't quite tell at that size of like watching some of these videos on my phone. These athletes are running so fast and the screens not very big. It's hard to tell with the motion blur in the speed that they're running and the fact that their gates are very much the same. You can hardly tell if if athletes are running on purpose. aesthetics are none or two, or they look basically the same because because only the heads and the torsos of these athletes are stable, the movement of the pumping arms, the movement of the legs is so fast that they're blurred by motion and you can't really see very cleanly and again, because the linear gait is, is straight on, it's exactly the same whether you're running with below the knee prosthetics or not. It's it's amazing the speed that can be achieved with these blades.

Christine Malec:

I tend to think of track and field athletes runners in particular as having a very lean, lat long body type. Is that also true for runners who are running with prosthetics?

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, absolutely. Almost the exact same body shape. Whether you're an Olympian or Paralympian runner, you are lean, you're you're propelling yourself and you're running outside, you're burning a lot of fat. And you don't want to have a lot of extra weight as you are charging forward. If you are racing in a chair. So there there are like there's 100 meter, running events and 100 meter sprints in chairs. And those chairs the athletes who are using those chairs, they tend to be more broad across the chest, they tend to be you know, thicker in the arms because all of their power is coming from the arms as they're leaning forward. And their chairs are three wheeled they got two wheels in the back and one wheel forward. They're in the race car wheelchairs.

Christine Malec:

Oh, wow.

JJ Hunt:

Yeah. And so that body shape requires the musculature that's required for that sport is different, you are broader across the chest a bit thicker. But if you are a runner, if you are a runner, you are a runner, and you need to be if you are a long distance runner, the long the longer your distance, the thinner you're going to be. That tends to be the way it goes.

Christine Malec:

So I guess we have to talk about goalball. I know it's a very it's a very popular sport in the blind community and I'm just not a fan of playing.

JJ Hunt:

Ha ha ha!

Christine Malec:

JJ will know what that's how we met actually was at a community goalball and I would go to support my friends and comfort them when they got bruised, and I had no interest in flailing around the grimy gymnasium while my friends through heavy things at me so personal bias not into the goalball.

JJ Hunt:

Ha ha ha!

Christine Malec:

But I get that it's very popular and JJ yourself you put on the goggles and and you were down there on the floor with with the players. So what does it look like at the competitive Paralympic level?

JJ Hunt:

Oh, god, it's amazing. I really like goalball. It is intense. And these you know, we had the good fortune of having some of Canada's elite goalball athletes Come and join us at the community center on occasion. They would come in just to kind of muck around stay in shape. And you know, I think they were just being good to us--

Christine Malec:

Slumming. Ha ha ha.

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, exactly! And I remember taking a taking a

Christine Malec:

Ooooh!

JJ Hunt:

I have never been prouder! I'm like, "I got a cut throw, I can't remember which player it was. But this woman hurled a ball and I dove, I was defending. And I know she was not throwing her hardest. I know she was not whipping as hard a she could. But my form wasn't perfect. And I dove and I didn't protect myself and I got a seri us cut lip. lip from a Paralympian!"

Christine Malec:

Ha ha ha!

JJ Hunt:

I wore that thing like a badge of honor.

Christine Malec:

At least you didn't get squared, eh? Huck huck!

JJ Hunt:

Ha! Yeah, it could have been worse, it could have been worse. Heh heh heh. So for those who, I mean, a lot of our listeners will know about goalball. But for those who don't know, we should explore explain just a little bit of the basics of it because it's a really cool, interesting sport. I love it. It's hard core. It's incredibly challenging, and it's just a little bit quirky. So I like all of that about it. So it's played on a volleyball sized court, three active players per side. There are long shoulder high nets that stretch across both ends of the court. And the athletes are all blind or low vision and or were blackout visors that resemble kind of painted over ski goggles. In fact, that's what I used in our level, I just got an old pair of ski goggles and put black electrical tape on the inside and outside to make sure that my field of vision was completely blocked off. The three players on each side line up in front of the goal line and they bowl or hurl this heavy soccer ball sized ball at the opposing net. And the ball has bells in it so that the defenders can hear it. And then the defenders dive and slide across the court to block the ball with their bodies and keep it out of their net. And there are tactile markings on the floor that help players to orient themselves you can also orient yourself on the crossbar and the posts that are, you know, behind you in the net, the speed, which with which the ball can be bold or hurled is amazing. So it's an underhand whipping action, which is why you call it bowling. But really bowling doesn't do it justice because players spin and they do all sorts of amazing things to get this ball to go like 60 to 70 kilometers per hour, that's over 40 miles an hour incredibly fast. So with a spin shot, players will take a few steps forward, the ball generally cradled in one hand, like held like a bowling ball, and you take a few steps forward, and then spin. So all the way around and you whip your body around so that when you return to face the opponent's net, again, you've been deep to whip the ball along the ground with minimal bouncing. So if you get that ball spinning right along the ground, you're reducing the friction, you're reducing the sound, you don't get that big bounce when the ball hits, and you can like you can get the spin in such a way that the bells don't ring as much inside, they don't bounce around. And again, that ball can whip 60 to 70 kilometers an hour. Then there's like my personal favorite is the backwards between the legs shot. This is sometimes called a Brazilian Special -- Ha ha ha! -- because it's particularly well-deployed by the Brazilian squad, especially the women. So often the way this works, you hold the ball in both hands. The player takes a few steps forward to start to gain speed, and then jump in the air spin 180 degrees. So now your back is facing the opponents. You lift the ball overhead with both hands. And then the moment that you land, you open your feet up a little bit with your back towards your opponent's legs open and you whip the ball down in between your legs and the ball flies down the court at an amazing speed. Some players do this where they run backwards from the start some people like the kind of spinning and then whipping down between the legs. Incredible action from the from the hurlers, the throwers. on the defensive side, players stay very low to the ground, right, they're often on one knee or maybe on both knees. Sometimes they're in this when I described goalball at the Para Pan Am Games in Toronto, there were a couple of players on the Canadian team that really did this amazing, low predatory pouncing posture. So one knee is down, the other leg is straight out to the side. And they were leaning forward on both hands. Really fantastic, aggressive, like, you know, crouching stance, and then when the player hears the ball coming, they will dive either to the left or the right, they'll either push their legs out in one direction or their die forward with their hands extended in the other. And so your arms are, you know, overhead stretched out in front of you to hopefully in front of your face. Like I said, I can attest to needing to put your arms in front of your face. Don't put your schnoz forward folks, and that can hurt an awful lot. And then you stretch your legs out and keep your legs the players keep their legs slightly apart so that you create a taller blocking area and that also helps to trap the ball if it comes into your legs. And if you've trapped the ball, you pick it up and then you either quickly hurl it back or you get hope to kind of kick or knock the ball out of bounds keep it away from the net. That's basically how goalball looks as it's played. Awesome sport.

Christine Malec:

Oh yeah. So much fun.

JJ Hunt:

Ha ha! Now what was your experience like taking in the games? Not playing but listening to the games? Did you enjoy that element of it? Were you following the action or mostly just waiting for the beer at the end of the night?

Christine Malec:

Well, no. It was interesting to to listen to the back and forth banter of the players although during play, it's quiet. There's enforced quiet. But yeah, definitely I would sit sort of midcourt along the edge and hear the ball go back and forth. And the occasional grunt of deep pain as someone is nailed with a -- Bang! Right in the -- Ooooh! Yeah.

JJ Hunt:

Huh huh huh.

Christine Malec:

And compare bruises later. So I spent most of the time just kind of cringing or being alternately cringing and being bored. Ha ha! Like why are you people doing this to yourselves?

JJ Hunt:

Ha ha ha.

Christine Malec:

To each other!? Why are you doing this? Huh huh huh. You like watching it?

JJ Hunt:

I do. I really do. Yeah, I mean because of that silence because the audience has to be silent during gameplay so that the players can hear the ball. It really adds to the tension if you are a sighted viewer.

Christine Malec:

Hmmmm.

JJ Hunt:

So watching a ball get partially blocked and then roll over a defender and then start to trickle toward the net. The other players, the other defenders will start piling on desperately trying to find it, just listening to the cues, and everyone in the audience has to be completely silent. So there's no gasping there's no audible nail biting like, everything hangs in that moment. And it really adds to the tension. When you can't, you can't react as a fan until it either goes in the net or out of bounds. I really liked that additional tension I found that fantastic. As a spectator that was wonderful.

Christine Malec:

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