Sometimes amidst all the excitement of sporting events, the thrill of rooting for the victorious team, or the agony of rooting for the losing team, we all forget about the deeper importance of sports on ourselves, our communities, and our culture. Anyone who grew up playing team sports can attest that the experience was not only about having fun and playing. There is so much more to it than that. Trust, work-ethic, determination, conflict management, acceptance of others, self-confidence, the ability to work with others, problem-solving skills, leadership skills, lasting friendships, resiliency, and I could keep listing attributes but you get the point. That said, these skills are just effects on an individual, and we aren’t even going to begin discussing the effect of a community or a nation rallying around a team or an athlete.
Now imagine if an entire group of people were not afforded the opportunity to experience all that sports have to offer. That was the case a little more than 40 years ago before Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded Special Olympics. We imagine it is still the case in many countries and communities throughout the world. This is why we are so excited to be headed to The Unity Cup. The world needs to see that not only can people with intellectual disabilities train and compete among themselves, but they can be integrated into sports with their peers who do not have disabilities. And if they can play sports with their non-disabled peers, then they can certainly work with them, go to school with them, and be afforded the same respect, dignity, and responsibilities as them. In fact there is no “them”, as that perpetuates a false notion of separateness. We are all one, and that is what the Unity Cup and Unified Sports all are about.
Here are some other articles we’ve seen recently that capture the deeper themes within sport:
Gotta respect the character of Team USA, despite their recent exit from the World Cup. Their make-up (toughness, resiliency, work ethic) reminds us a lot of the characteristics of Matt Millett.
Don’t believe what we say about what it means to be a part of a team? Just ask the best professional coach on the planet.
Upset about the USA loss? Think about how the win by Ghana positively effects the entire continent of Africa: