Unified Sports

Special Olympics Unified Sports® creates an opportunity for people without intellectual disabilities to join in the sports experience by playing on a team with athletes with intellectual disabilities. Not only do the players all have fun, but attitude change and transformation happens on the playing field and the experiences create lifelong friendships.

Unified Sports® combines approximately equal numbers of Special Olympics Athletes and athletes without intellectual disabilities (called Partners) on sports teams for training and competition. Age and ability matching of athletes and partners is defined on a sport-by-sport basis.

The concept of combining athletes with intellectual disabilities and those without was first introduced in the mid-1980s to provide another level of challenge for higher ability athletes and to promote equality and inclusion. 

Unified Sports® enables Special Olympics athletes to:

  • Learn new sports SO Unified-Sports Lozenge Red
  • Develop higher-level sports skills
  • Have new competition experiences
  • Experience meaningful inclusion (each athlete is ensured of playing a valued role on the team)
  • Socialize with peers and form friendships
  • Participate in their communities leading to choices outside of Special Olympics

Special Olympics Unified Sports®

If you are interested in the unique opportunity to become a Unified Partner, please follow the normal steps involved in becoming a volunteer by contacting the local Program nearest to you.  When you are contacted by the appropriate Special Olympics Pennsylvania staff or volunteer, just mention your specific interest in Unified Sports®.  Learn more about our local Program nearest to you (roster, divisioning, and awarding).

If you have questions or seek additional information on Unified Sports within Pennsylvania please contact: Michelle Boone, VP of Sports or 610-630-9450 ext. 220.

Unified Sport Trainings:

Unified 7v7 Soccer Coach Training

If you are looking to start a Unified 7v7 Soccer team or any other Unified team sport, this webinar contains important information on the Principles of Unified Sports, recruitment strategies for athletes and partners, team composition, best practices and coaching strategies to ensure that all teammates are meaningfully involved.

In addition, you can take the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSH) Coaching Unified Sports Course will help you understand and implement Special Olympics Unified Sports in your school.

What are Unified Champion Schools?

Special Olympics Pennsylvania's Unified Champion Schools are fully-inclusive co-ed high school sports programs which successfully facilitate social inclusion by bringing together a proportional number of students with and without intellectual disabilities on teams for training and competition. Click the button below to learn more!

 For more information about Interscholastic Unified Sports, please contact Mike Bovino, Senior Advisor - Unified Sports, at