Help Us Unite and Change The Game

Join our athletes from across the world to build inclusive, unified communities.

Unified Sports®

Team sports bring people together. Special Olympics Unified Sports® teams do that, too and much more. More than 1.2 million people worldwide take part in Unified Sports, breaking down stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities in a really fun way. ESPN has served as the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports since 2013, supporting the growth and expansion of this program that empowers individuals with and without intellectual disabilities to engage through the power of sports.

Promoting Social Inclusion Through Sport

Special Olympics is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. 

In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability. That makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for all. Having sport in common is just one more way that preconceptions and false ideas are swept away. 

U.S. States Embracing Unified Sports

Young people with disabilities don't often get a chance to play on their school sports teams. More and more U.S. states are adopting the Unified Sports approach that Special Olympics pioneered.

Unified Sports is also an integral part of the Special Olympics Unified Strategy for Schools, which was founded in 2008 and funded through the U.S. Department of Education to use Special Olympics as a way to build inclusion and tolerance in schools. Unified Sports are now in more than 4300 middle and high schools in the United States.  Seventy percent of Unified Schools (Pre-K through Grade 12) are engaging in Unified Sports!  Also 215 US colleges and universities have Special Olympics clubs on campus, providing ongoing Unified and inclusionary activities for students and Special Olympics athletes.  73 of the 215 US colleges and universities activating Special Olympics College conduct ongoing Unified Sports on their campus.  Learn how to get involved, visit: www.playunified.org.

For almost 30 years, Special Olympics has offered sport teams that blend people with and without intellectual disabilities. That is a model that encourages sports and fun. It also gets people together to learn more about each other.

In addition to establishing support from ESPN, the 'Worldwide Leader in Sports', to become the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports, additional support for Unified Sports in markets across the world has included support from partners including: Lions Club International, The Kim Samuel Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education and many more.

Our Partners

  • ESPN
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • Kim Samuel and the Samuel Family Foundation
  • Perfect Sense
  • Y&R
  • Burson-Marsteller
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • WWE
  • NBA
  • MLS Works
  • Uniqlo
  • Seiko
  • NIRSA
  • NFHS
  • EuroLeague
  • UNICEF
  • UEFA
  • FIFA Football for Hope
  • King Baudouin Foundation

Major sports organization, league and event support to Play Unified

Many high-profile, professional sports organizations and events have also showcased Unified Sports as a vehicle to show the power of inclusive sports!  This support includes:

National Basketball Association (NBA),

Major League Soccer (MLS),

Union of European Football Associations (UEFA),

National Collegiate Athletic Association, D-III,

ESPN's X Games Aspen,

National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) and

National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA). 

Quizzes

Unified Sports® Events

  • Mar 14 - Mar 25
    2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games
    Tue Mar 14 - Sat Mar 25, 2017
     
    6 venues
    Austria

    2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games

    Tue Mar 14 - Sat Mar 25, 2017
     

    The 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games will be held in Austria in three primary locations: in Graz (the second largest city in Austria and capital of the Styria region), Schladming (host city of the Alpine Skiing World Championships in 1982 and 2013) and Ramsau (host city of the Nordic Skiing World Championships in 1999).


    Contact information
    Venue(s)
    Opening Ceremony
    Planai-Hochwurzen-Bahnen
    Coburgstraße 52
    Schladming
    Austria
    Team Competitions
    Stadthalle Graz
    Messeplatz 1
    Graz
    Austria
    Competitions in floorball, floor hockey and stick shooting will be held on the first floor of Stadthalle Graz.
    Show all Venues
  • Mar
    24
    Interscholastic Unified Sports Bocce Championship
    Fri Mar 24, 2017
    08:30 AM - 11:00 AM
    Hershey
    Pennsylvania
    USA

    Interscholastic Unified Sports Bocce Championship

    Fri Mar 24, 2017
    08:30 AM - 11:00 AM

    SOPA hosts the IUS Bocce Championship at PIAA Boy’s and Girl’s Basketball Championship, Hershey, PA in March. Bocce teams will consists of a proportional number of students with and without intellectual disabilities (one team consists of 6-8 athletes). By providing opportunities for students both with all types of disabilities and without disabilities to participate in sports meaningfully and by engaging other students in the school community, Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS) helps promote inclusion, acceptance, and respect. The Special Olympics Interscholastic Unified Sports program is supported by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) and the Bureau of Special Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education.


    Contact information
    Venue(s)
    Hershey Giant Center
    550 Hersheypark Dr
    Hershey, Pennsylvania
    USA
    Stadium
  • Apr
    02
    Unified Sports Rivalry Series - Alabama vs. Ole Miss
    Sun Apr 02, 2017
    12:00 PM - 02:00 PM
    East Tuscaloosa
    Alabama
    USA

    Unified Sports Rivalry Series - Alabama vs. Ole Miss

    Sun Apr 02, 2017
    12:00 PM - 02:00 PM

    The Special Olympics Unified Sports Rivalry Series are games where each team represents one college rival team. The teams are comprised of students from the perspective universities and local Special Olympics athletes. This Series offers Special Olympics athletes a chance to be a part of hype of the varsity game and the challenge to defend their schools' titles!


    Contact information
    Venue(s)
    University of Alabama Main Recreation Center
    401 5th Ave.
    East Tuscaloosa, Alabama
    USA
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