Special Olympics sports competitions are based on the idea that athletes of all abilities should be given an equal chance of succeeding, whether it is a personal best or a gold medal.
Special Olympics calls this competition-level matching “divisioning.” It’s a fundamental rule at Special Olympics that athletes in competitions are matched up with others of the same gender, about the same age and most importantly, of about the same competitive ability.
Evening out by skill level and matching for age and gender makes Special Olympics events more exciting and meaningful for the athletes and the fans watching.
Divisioning is a two-stage process. Before each competition, a time, score or skill assessment is submitted for each athlete or team. For events that are not timed or measured, such as football and badminton, there is a series of short games between athletes or teams or an assessment of each athlete or team’s ability by a committee.. The divisions are then set up based on the information on each athlete’s skill level so that each set of competitors is closely matched.