Unified sports program to promote inclusivity

Program can improve self-esteem, understanding among sports partners



DJ Mackie, coordinator of competitive sports and youth programs in WSU’s College of Education, says unified sports is becoming well-known in the Northwest. It is available in colleges such as Eastern Washington University.

ELAYNE RODRIGUEZ, Evergreen reporter

The Sports Management Program in WSU’s College of Education considered a special sports program on Tuesday afternoon at the Student Recreation Center.

Tammy Crawford, a clinical assistant professor of the sports management program, said people who participate in unified sports improve self-esteem, health and increase understanding among sports partners.

“We are reminding ourselves what the reasons [are] and that there are real benefits and that’s inspiring us to move forward with the project,” she said.

Crawford said there are different opportunities to become a part of unified sports such as being a participant player, an official, team manager, an equipment manager and facility manager.

“Based on the students who I interacted with,” she said, “I do think there are people on campus who are interested.”

Crawford said the Sports Management Program offers some UCORE diversity classes that spend about three weeks introducing the students to the Paralympics and Special Olympics.

DJ Mackie, coordinator of competitive sports and youth programs, said the unified sports program has spread in the Northwest. It is available in schools like Eastern Washington University.

“I am hopeful to get the same excitement from the [WSU] community, as well, and getting those special athletes,” he said.

Mackie said the program has to assess interest first from the students and community because it is in its early stages. The program first needs to have a large market of students and athletes to want to participate.

Corrinna McGrath, sports management academic adviser, said they plan to make unified sports a long term program, and they want to make sure it is inclusive as much as possible.

“I think it is really important, as a group, to try to make sure we weigh the interest of all the groups involved,” she said.

Simon Licen, sports management coordinator, said the short-term goals are to identify a sufficient amount of university individuals and volunteers. He said they want to connect and involve the local community before the end of the semester.

“Our wildest dream will be to offer an intramural league by the university recreation,” Licen said. “We would like to organize a friendly match or some sort of field base.”

Crawford said those involved with the program has reached out to YMCA and special education instructors within the community in hopes of moving forward with them to expand the program efficiently.

“We have to have the wheels in motion,” she said, “in order to make that happen.”