Welcome To Special Olympics International!

We are a global organization with programs in 170 countries. This site may be customized by language and geographic region.

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
  • NFHS
  • EuroLeague
  • 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). 


Unified Sports® Events

  • Mar 03 - Mar 05
    The NY Football Giants Snow Bowl
    Fri Mar 3 - Sun Mar 05, 2017
    East Rutherford
    New Jersey

    The NY Football Giants Snow Bowl

    Fri Mar 3 - Sun Mar 05, 2017

    The NY Football Giants Snow Bowl is an official 6-on-6 flag football tournament with light blocking, played over three days. Teams are allowed up to 15 players; all must be 18 years of age or older to participate. All proceeds collected by the flag football teams benefit Special Olympics New Jersey athletes and help foster the Special Olympics mission.

    Related Link(s):More Details

    Contact information
    MetLife Stadium
    East Rutherford, New Jersey
  • Mar 04 - Mar 05
    Special Olympics Connecticut 2017 Winter Games
    Sat Mar 4 - Sun Mar 05, 2017
    5 venues

    Special Olympics Connecticut 2017 Winter Games

    Sat Mar 4 - Sun Mar 05, 2017

    Special Olympics Connecticut will proudly host its 2017 Winter Games presented by Eversource Energy on Saturday March 4th and Sunday March 5th in the Greater Hartford area. Nearly 900 Athletes and Unified Sports Partners are expected to participate in skating, skiing, snowshoeing, gymnastics and unified floor hockey. You are invited to come out and cheer on the participants and enjoy a day of winter fun! Events are fee and open to the public.

    Contact information

    • Debbie Horne
      Director of Communications and Marketing
      203-230-1201 ext 240
    Traditional and Unified Snowshoes and Cross Country Skiing
    Eversource, Windsor
    1985 Blue Hills Ave Ext.
    Windor, Connecticut
    Unified Floor Hockey and Floor Hockey Skills
    Pratt and Whitney Hangar
    Silver Lane
    East Hartford, Connecticut
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  • Mar
    Unified Sports Rivalry Series - UNC vs. Duke
    Sat Mar 04, 2017
    10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
    Chapel Hill
    North Carolina, 27514

    Unified Sports Rivalry Series - UNC vs. Duke

    Sat Mar 04, 2017
    10:00 AM - 12:00 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
    Carmichael Arena
    310 South Rd.
    Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 27514
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