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Community Impact

Feeling the Crowd: A Letter from a Fan in the Stands

Women's teams playing basketball on a court.
Women’s Basketball Japan – Morocco, spectator’s view

Excitement. It’s a good feeling.

It started at a tight game between the Special Olympics Japan and Morocco women’s basketball 5x5 teams at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin on 21 June. Later in the game, Japan took the lead, but that didn’t matter to the fans in the stands. Everyone was here to watch a great game of sports and experience a pumped-up atmosphere.

Being a technology volunteer for World Games, I don’t just have the satisfaction of doing something good and changing the world slightly for the better, but I also get to watch all matches that I can fit into my schedule. It’s a great feeling to be a part of the crowd of guests, officials and press.

When I sat down to watch the match, I felt the collective enthusiasm of everyone in the stands including special guest, former soccer player for the Japanese national team Keiji Tamada. Seeing the athletes walk in, boosted by the excitement to start the match and show what they are capable of, I could feel their competitive spirit even all the way up in my seat.

It’s clear that the players are true athletes and on top of their disciplines. Of course, every one of them also thinks of winning in one way or the other, however for the fans, it seemed that the typical rivalry from other sports competitions is swapped with the excitement of being there and showing the spectators their skills together with the other team. That’s an enhanced team spirit! It is more inclusive and very enjoyable to watch.

Another aspect that seems to be different at Special Olympics matches is the type of fun the audience has. Among the fans in the stands, it feels like an unofficial rule to clap and cheer for both teams, for the great sport they are showcasing rather than just celebrate one side in particular.

It’s amazing to cheer in the stands together with so many other people interested in both sports and inclusion. I even participated in the la ola wave (crowd wave in the stands). At the beginning of the second half, “We Will Rock You” started playing and spectators went wild. It created a great atmosphere for the athletes who played even harder in the second half with their sportsmanship and skills on full display.

By the end of the game, Japan beat Morocco 15 – 4, but that the score didn’t represent the true worth of the game. Ultimately, just was a number. The feeling, the atmosphere and the sport itself were much more important. Everyone was part of an amazing game of basketball and left with a feeling of excitement. I’m already looking forward to finding time in my schedule to again be a fan in the stands!

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