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
    06
    Unified Volleyball Tournament
    Sat May 06, 2017
    10:00 AM - 03:00 PM
    Smithfield
    Rhode Island
    USA

    Unified Volleyball Tournament

    Sat May 06, 2017
    10:00 AM - 03:00 PM

    The Unified Volleyball Tournament will be held at Bryant University in Rhode Island on Saturday, May 6th from 10am - 3pm. 200 athletes and partners will be participating in this fun sporting event!


    Contact information
    Venue(s)
    Bryant University
    1150 Douglas Pike
    Smithfield, Rhode Island
    USA
  • May
    06
    Unified Soccer Tournament
    Sat May 06, 2017
    09:00 AM - 04:00 PM
    Bonner Springs
    Kansas
    USA

    Unified Soccer Tournament

    Sat May 06, 2017
    09:00 AM - 04:00 PM

    The Unified Soccer Tournament will be held at Bonner Springs High School, 100 McDanield St, Bonner Springs, KS. The Tournament will begin at 9:00am. The Kansas Unified Sports League will host its culminatng soccer tournament of the season. Area high schools, middle schools and adult will compete against teams of similar ability in tournament-style competition. Teams are composed of Special Olympics athletes and volunteer partners who practice and compete together to enhance their skills and form friendships.


    Related Link(s):More Details

    Contact information
    Venue(s)
    Bonner Springs School District Campus
    100 McDaniel St
    Bonner Springs, Kansas
    USA
  • May
    07
    Unified Champions High School Basketball Finals
    Sun May 07, 2017
    12:00 PM - 04:00 PM
    Warwick
    Rhode Island
    USA

    Unified Champions High School Basketball Finals

    Sun May 07, 2017
    12:00 PM - 04:00 PM

    200 athletes and unified partners from 10 schools will participate in The Unified Champion High School Basketball Finals on Sunday, May 7th at Bishop Hendricken High School beginning at 12pm.


    Contact information
    Venue(s)
    Bishop Hendricken High School
    2615 Warwick Avenue
    Warwick, Rhode Island
    USA
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