Holding Court


Ephrata’s Ryan Thomas stands ready for action during a home game versus Wenatchee on January 18th.

Staff Sources

Unified Basketball is quickly gaining popularity across the world. The game is a combination of traditional basketball and Special Olympics Unified Sports, bringing together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to compete on the same team. The aim is to promote inclusion and understanding and to break down barriers between people.

In Unified Basketball, teams are composed of three players with intellectual disabilities and two without. This creates a unique dynamic where players can learn from one another and work together to achieve a common goal. The sport is also designed to accommodate players of all skill levels, allowing everyone to participate and feel valued.

The Special Olympics was founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver with the goal of promoting acceptance and inclusion for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Today, the organization operates in over 190 countries and has grown to include a variety of sports programs, including Unified Sports.

As of 2021, there were over 2,000 Unified Sports programs in the United States, with basketball being one of the most popular. These programs bring together individuals of all abilities to compete, train, and learn from one another. Through the power of sport, Unified Basketball is helping to build a more inclusive and accepting world.

According to the Special Olympics, “Unified Sports is about bringing people together and breaking down barriers to create more inclusive communities. It is about promoting understanding, respect, and dignity for all people, regardless of ability.”

In a recent interview, Tim Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics, stated “Unified Sports is a game-changer for people with intellectual disabilities. It creates a new level of understanding, respect, and friendship between people of different abilities.”

Unified Basketball has a positive impact on athletes by promoting teamwork, leadership, communication, and physical fitness. Players with intellectual disabilities are given the opportunity to showcase their abilities and be treated as equals, while those without disabilities learn to embrace diversity and understand the abilities of their teammates.

Unified Basketball is more than just a sport, it is a movement that celebrates diversity and promotes equality. Its growing popularity is proof that the world is ready for change and that people are eager to come together and play for a better future.

Ephrata High School’s Unified Basketball team is one of many teams around the world that is embracing this inclusive sport. Tomorrow night, the team will be taking on Eastmont High School in a highly anticipated home game at Marty O’Brien Court. The game is set to start at 6pm and is expected to draw a large crowd of supporters from both schools.  Admission is free but donations are being accepted to benefit the Unified program at Ephrata High School.  The game will also be televised on the school’s broadcast network, TigerVision and may be watched by accessing the network’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/tigervision or tuning in to www.tigervisionmedia.com tomorrow evening.