Unified Sports | Michigan State University
In Fall 2016, Recreational Sports and Fitness Services partnered with Special Olympics Michigan (SOMI) and the RSO Special Olympics Michigan State (SOMSU) to engage 70 participants in the 2nd season of Unified Flag Football. Unified Sports promotes social inclusion by partnering MSU Students with Special Olympics Athletes. By having people with and without intellectual disabilities competing on the same team, friendships and understanding are quickly fostered among teammates and competitors.
The Unified league runs in conjunction with all other Intramural Flag Football leagues at MSU, providing development opportunities for these participants on a weekly basis. The seven-week season includes assessment day, team practice, four regular season games, and championship night. It is also highlighted in a Rivalry Game hosted on MSU’s campus where Unified participants play against a Unified team from the University of Michigan. This takes place on the Friday before the MSU v UofM varsity football game.
The reach of this program goes beyond the field of play. Liz Lobaccaro, of SOMSU, said “The Unified Sports league gives our athletes the college experience that they normally wouldn’t be able to experience. Without IM sports, our club wouldn’t be able to make as hands-on of an impact as we do for the Special Olympic athletes in the Lansing community.”
Cathy Stevenson, mother of a SOMI athlete Nick Stevenson, said, “Nick really enjoys the SOMSU events. They have made his social life alive! Thank you for opening the doors of opportunity to our children!”
The Unified Sports program will continue in 2017 with the 3rd season of Unified Basketball and our department looks forward to being able to provide outstanding experiences for both the MSU Students and the SO Athletes that participate.