What is Unified Sport?
Special Olympics Unified Sport is an inclusive sport program that brings athletes with and without intellectual disabilities together for competition. In Unified Sport programs, there is a comparable number of athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the court/field at the same time. The implementation of a Unified Sport program is meant to create an environment of ‘Meaningful Competition’ wherein champions work together to create a balanced competitive environment. This way athletes can focus on competing to the best of their ability against evenly matched opponents.
What are the components of a Unified Sport Program?
A Special Olympics athlete is an athlete with an intellectual disability; typically, someone who is interested in sport participation, is competitive, and enjoys playing on a team.
A Unified Partner athlete is an athlete without an intellectual disability; typically, someone who is interested in sport participation, is competitive, and enjoys playing on a team.
Meaningful Competition is an important component of Unified Sport. Coaches are responsible for putting players of comparable skill together on a team and on the court in a game so that an evenly matched competition will allow opportunities for every team member to contribute.
What are the benefits of Unified Sport?
A competitive environment, in which athletes from different social backgrounds compete together, has the potential to bridge perceived and real social divides. Some research has noted that Unified Sport partners have shown significant improvements in their attitude toward individuals with disabilities as a result of playing on a Unified Sport team. Other research has cited similar conclusions about Special Olympics athletes having a heightened level of awareness of their peers without disabilities.
The important thing to remember is that, in addition to the universally accepted personal benefits of involvement in sport and competition, Unified Sport provides social benefits for both Special Olympics athletes and Unified Sport partners. Unified Sport offers athletes the opportunity to improve upon their sport-specific skills, gain valuable competition experience, make new friends, and gain a heightened awareness of the social existence of peers facing different obstacles.
All three models, defined below, have social inclusion as the core outcome; however, the structure and function of each model vary.
Division 1 - Competitive
Two things differentiate the competitive Unified Sports model from the other two models:
1. All athletes and partners must have attained the necessary sport-specific skills and tactics to compete without modification and
2. Teams may be eligible for advancement to Regional and World Games.
Division 2 – Competitive (Player Development)
Two things differentiate this Unified Sports model from the other two models:
1. Teammates are not required to be of similar abilities
2. Teammates of higher abilities serve as mentors to assist teammates of lower abilities in developing sport-specific skills and tactics, and in successfully participating in a cooperative team environment.
Division 3 - Recreational
This model does not follow any prescribed training, competition, and/or team composition requirements established by Special Olympics. These recreational opportunities may take place in partnership with schools, sport clubs, and/or the community.
The combination of students working together provides the best opportunity for creating a positive school climate, which ensures EVERY student becomes a part of the social fabric within their schools.
Every student now has the opportunity to become an athlete, unified partner, or student leader while creating a more inclusive environment!
The Unified Sport schedule for Saskatchewan allows for schools to be involved at various levels and to varying degrees at any time during the school year playing Unified Bocce, BAGGO, Basketball and/or Athletics.
“Choose to Include” with a sport that works for your athletes, your programs, and your schools.
Special Olympics athletes take the court with Unified Partner athletes to organize, practice and play indoor and/or outdoor Unified Bocce. There are no divisions. There is no maximum number of teams that schools can enter. Tournaments, in Regina and Saskatoon, play in a 1 ½ hour round robin format. No medals or awards are given.
Baggo is bean bag toss. Special Olympics athletes and Unified Partner athletes organize and play as they see fit. There are no divisions. There is no maximum number of teams that schools can enter. Tournaments, in Regina and Saskatoon, play in a 1 ½ hour round robin format. No medals or awards are given.
Unified 3 on 3 Basketball
Teams of 6 (4 Special Olympics athletes and 2 Partner athletes) organize and play an 8 week schedule. Host your own tournament if you wish. Provincial championships are in May of each year. There is no maximum number of teams that schools can enter.
The Special Olympics Saskatchewan Unified Athletics Program (SOSUAP) is a Unified athletics program dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. This program and competition, including coaching instructions and skills assessments, is open and available to all grades and schools in Saskatchewan. Special Olympics Saskatchewan Unified Athletics Competition will be held on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021, at the Regina Fieldhouse. Please contact Special Olympics Saskatchewan’s Youth Coordinator, Chris Hamilton, for more information.
Unified Curling and Badminton
Special Olympics athletes take to the ice or court with Unified Partner athletes to organize, practice and play. There are no schedules or divisions. This is an opportunity to benefit from Unified Sport while enjoying the sport of curling and/or badminton. Any athlete, team, club, and/or school interested in playing Unified Curling and/or Badminton, please contact Special Olympics Saskatchewan’s Youth Coordinator, Chris Hamilton, for more information.
Unified Sports Dates
- Regina and area: 2021, TBA
- Saskatoon and area: 2021, TBA
- Saskatoon and area: March 2021, TBA, SaskTel Soccer Centre
- Regina and area: March 2021, TBA
- Regina and Saskatoon tournaments: TBA
- Provincials: Swift Current, Saturday, May 8th, 2021
- Saskatoon, E.D. Feehan, TBA, (not a Unified event), please contact Special Olympics Saskatoon
- Regina, Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021, Regina Fieldhouse
Chris Hamilton, Special Olympics Saskatchewan Youth Coordinator, 306-780-9401, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Unified Sport, please visit our Unified Resources.