Special Olympics and Basketball

Since 1968 the Special Olympics has grown to include more than 170 countries and over 30 different sports. Evident in the stories of the many athletes, the confidence that training and competing in Special Olympics sports builds often helps those with special needs face challenges and obstacles in their daily lives. In addition, the special Olympics events are an ideal way for volunteer workers, special needs participants, and the families and friends who cheer them on to become involved, as the organization itself says, “to discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success.”

Eunice Kennedy Shriver birthed the organization over a period of 10 years in the 1950s-1960s as her desire for a fair and dignified way to showcase the accomplishment of special needs youth in sports grew. Her goal to provide a location for special needs kids not only to play and thrive also emphasized focus on their abilities and never their limitations. At the time, there was no such place, so Eunice Kennedy Shriver starter her own–on her own property as a day camp during the summer. What she began eventually became the Special Olympics organization. By July 20, 1968, the first games were hosted in Chicago with 1,000 competitors in floor hockey, track and field, and swimming. In 1971, the US Olympic Committee had given lawful approval to use the title “Olympic”–a right given solely to two groups. The Special Olympics became international in 1977 with its winter events in skiing and skating and included TV broadcasting by major networks NBC, CBS, and ABC. By May 2015, unprecedented numbers were recorded: over 4.5 million competitors and 94,000 events internationally.

The Special Olympics’s almost-fifty-year history of empowering special needs kids and adults also brought about one equally important aspect in its 1989 Unified Sports initiative–the cooperation and bonding of individuals with and without special needs competing together on the same side. Besides teamwork, volunteers have had opportunity to coach, officiate, help out at the events, or simply to be a fan. Today, the range of  Special Olympics activities now covers almost every interest: bowling, roller skating, horseback riding, cycling, swimming, badminton, kayaking, sailing, football, hockey, softball, tennis, volleyball, alpine skiing, figure skating, gymnastics, powerlifting, triathlon, and basketball.

Long Island is home to various youth and adult basketball sports centers. On Saturday, May 14 2016, Be The Best Sport entered into the Long Island Special Olympics Basketball Competition held at the John Venditto Athletic Center in Hicksville, Long Island. The event had hundreds of participants competing in the yearly tournament. The gym was filled with enthusiastic parents, athletes, volunteers and coaches cheering on their team and showing their undying support and dedication.

Be The Best Sport’s basketball team, a local team comprised of players from Port Washington, Manhasset, Roslyn, Great Neck, and Queens qualified for the “A Division” and won the silver medal. This is the first year the team qualified for the “A” Division. It is a tremendous accomplishment and we are so proud of the athletes for the hard work and dedication that they have put in over the years to accomplish this goal. The basketball program will continue throughout the summer and into the following school year, as they set on to their next challenge in competing in the Special Olympics Basketball Tournament next May.

We would like to thank everyone involved for their passion and dedication. It is because of their support that our programs have grown tremendously and will continue to help more athletes become introduced to sports and increase their skills each week.

 For more information, visit: https://longislandsportsdome.com/program/basketball-classes/