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 do not 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 Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools, which was founded in 2008 and funded through the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs at 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 4500 elementary, middle and high schools in the United States.  Seventy percent of Unified Champion Schools (Pre-K through Grade 12) are engaging in Unified Sports!  Also 215 US colleges and universities have Special Olympics College 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.

Our Partners

  • ESPN
  • U.S. Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education (OSEP)
  • 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

  • May 25 - May 28
    2017 Texas Summer Games
    Thu May 25 - Sun May 28, 2017
     
    8 venues
    USA

    2017 Texas Summer Games

    Thu May 25 - Sun May 28, 2017
     

    The 2017 Summer Games will feature competition in Athletics, Basketball, Cycling, Gymnastics and Tennis for more than 3,000 Texas athletes.


    Contact information
    Venue(s)
    University of Texas at Arlington
    300 W. First Street
    Arlington
    USA
    Opening Ceremonies and Athletics
    UT Arlington - Maverick Stadium
    1307 W. Mitchell
    Arlington, Texas
    USA
    Show all Venues
  • May
    25
    Unified Champion Schools Bocce Tournament
    Thu May 25, 2017
    12:00 PM - 02:00 PM
    Saint Albans
    Vermont
    USA

    Unified Champion Schools Bocce Tournament

    Thu May 25, 2017
    12:00 PM - 02:00 PM

    Join us on May 25th at Collins Perley Sports and Fitness Center in Saint Albans, Vermont as our athletes Play Unified Bocce. It's an opportunity for people with and without intellectual disabilities to join together in bocce competition. Come witness the power of sports!


    Related Link(s):More Details

    Contact information
    Venue(s)
    Collins Perley Sports and Fitness Center
    890 Fairfax Rd.
    Saint Albans, Vermont
    USA
  • May 26 - May 27
    Interscholastic Unified Sports Track and Field Championship
    Fri May 26 - Sat May 27, 2017
     
    Shippensburg
    Pennsylvania
    USA

    Interscholastic Unified Sports Track and Field Championship

    Fri May 26 - Sat May 27, 2017
     

    On a Unified Track and Field team, students with and without intellectual disabilities compete alongside each. Each team members competes in one field event, one track event and one relay. Competition divisions are based on similar ability levels to ensure meaningful involvement. 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)
    Shippensburg University
    1871 Old Main Dr
    Shippensburg, Pennsylvania
    USA
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