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
  • Jun
    23
    Markgraf Sport and Leadership Academy Unified Sports Day
    Fri Jun 23, 2017
    12:00 PM - 02:00 PM
    Milwaukee
    Wisconsin
    USA

    Markgraf Sport and Leadership Academy Unified Sports Day

    Fri Jun 23, 2017
    12:00 PM - 02:00 PM

    Markgraf Sport and Leadership Academy is a multifaceted camp for girls using soccer, theater, mindfulness, and yoga to stretch participants’ comfort zones and equip them with the tools to overcome challenges. MSLA’s goal is build empowered leaders who are allies to the greater community. Special Olympics Wisconsin has been offered the unique opportunity in which SOWI athletes will be placed on a MSLA camper’s team. The new unified team will compete in small-sided soccer games and track events. Registration: Because the age limit of the camp, we are restricting participation to athletes 8-14 only; Athletes must have valid medicals on file; There are only a limited number of spots and registration will close once we reach that limit.


    Contact information
    Venue(s)
    University School of Milwaukee
    2100 W Fairy Chasm Rd
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    USA
  • Jul 10 - Jul 12
    Special Olympics Nordrhein-Westfalen Regional Games 2017
    Mon Jul 10 - Wed Jul 12, 2017
     
    44135 Dortmund
    Nordrhein-Westfalen
    Germany

    Special Olympics Nordrhein-Westfalen Regional Games 2017

    Mon Jul 10 - Wed Jul 12, 2017
     

    From the 10-12 July 2017, the Special Olympics Nordrhein-Westfalen Regional Games will be hosted in Neuss near the river Rhine. About 1000 athletes are expected to compete in 12 different of sports (athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, equestrian, football, golf, judo, roller skating, swimming, and table tennis). There will also be a big opening ceremony, 4 healthy athletes disciplines (Fit Feet, Health Promotion, Fun Fitness and Strong Minds) and MATP. It will be lots of fun! So, if you are nearby, come around and enjoy the games with us!


    Contact information
    Venue(s)
    Marc Becker
    Leuthardstraße 9
    44135 Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen
    Germany
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