6,500 athletes, 2,000 coaches representing 165 countries, 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators: The Most Inspirational Sporting Event on the Planet. The 2015 Special Olympics World Games will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. The 2015 Special Olympics World Games, with great amounts of spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill flowing throughout the athletes, will feature 25 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles area. As of Saturday July 25th, we are a few hours from The Opening Ceremony today which will be held in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, and is expected to attract 80,000 spectators.
What is the Special Olympics? Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power for the joy of sports, every day around the world. Created in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 4.5 million athletes in 170 different countries. Thanks to 1.3 million coaches and volunteers worldwide, Special Olympics hosts more than 94,000 games and competitions throughout the year. The World Games take place every two years and alternate between the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
The World Games deliveries 25 sports ranging from basketball to sailing at 27 different venues from University of Southern California to Long Beach. This year is the first time since 1972 that the World Games are hosted in LA and the first time since 2009 that they will be in the United States. The Games will be on ESPN daily from July 25th till August 2nd.
So why watch this? Why change up your daily routine of watching millionaire athletes throw around some ball and run around then complain why their contract isn’t 60 million dollars over six years compared to their current 50 million dollars over four years? Oh yeah, that’s why. The World Games deserves more respect and more of the spotlight. Entirely run by over 30,000 volunteers, the World Games is what truly needs to be trending on Twitter; not some “hostage” BS with Deandre Jordan and the LA Clippers or something stupid Alex Rodriguez accidentally slipped out of his mouth after a Yankees game.
The World Games represent what sports really are all about: incredible courage, unwavering determination, and sheer joy. Not money, not hatred, not complaining to the ref or getting into an argument with fans. Nine days of empowering people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and and welcoming society for all. Isn’t that what we want?
I ask you to tune in daily on ESPN and watch athletes. Do they have disabilities? Of course they do. But let me tell you something: their disabilities do not harm their courage, their dedication, their hope; they simply love sports. Our disabilities are money, stress, something called peer pressure with drugs, drinking, steroids etc. These athletes know what it takes and they prove it.
Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance worldwide.
As it say perfectly on its website: “The Special Olympics World Games embrace unity, achievement and dignity.” That’s what the world needs.