Special Olympics Unified Sports

Special Olympics Unified Sports

Historically, young people with disabilities didn't often get a chance to play on their school sports teams. But thanks to a global initiative by Special Olympics, with support from ESPN, that's changing.

Since 2013, ESPN has been the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports to leverage the power of sports to promote an environment of social inclusion and acceptance, by uniting people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same sports team. Since that time, 1.4 million people worldwide have registered to take part in Unified Sports, including athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and teammates (individuals without intellectual disabilities).

Unified Sports has proven to be highly effective in achieving social inclusion. Athletes feel a sense of belonging, they can meaningfully interact with others, develop mutually rewarding relationships, are recognized as contributors and are received with acceptance and respect.

ESPN is committed to helping Special Olympics achieve their goal of building Unified Sports programming and resources in 10,000 schools, in reaching 100,000 new or re-certified coaches and realizing 7 million acts of inclusion by 2020.

ESPN continues to cover the movement on an ongoing basis, with feature coverage of other Special Olympics events, athletes and stories throughout the year.