February 07, 2018
The second annual Tulane-LSU Special Olympics Unified Rivalry Basketball Game was held Feb. 3 at Fogelman Arena in Devlin Fieldhouse on the uptown campus of Tulane University.
The game featured teams of Special Olympians and students from Tulane and LSU competing for the coveted Unified Rivalry Cup. LSU emerged victorious this year, knotting the series up at one game a piece after Tulane won the inaugural game last year.
The large and raucus crowd of Tulane students, student athletes, and friends and family ate up the competition, with fans proudly displaying posters with the athletes’ names and cheering on their teams. Some chanted “DE-FENSE,” and even orchestrated the wave.
An award ceremony and trophy presentation followed the game, and later in the afternoon the teams scrimmaged during halftime of the Tulane Women’s basketball game against the University of South Florida.
“This is one of the highlights of the year for the Special Olympics athletes and the Tulane and LSU students,” said Gabe Feldman, the Sher Garner Faculty Scholar and director of the Tulane Sports Law Program. “The game captures the spirit of competition and inclusion that is such a key part of Special Olympics and Unified Sports."
Unified Sports is a program within Special Olympics in which players with and without intellectual disabilities train and compete on the same team. It is designed to enable athletes to learn new sports, refine athletic skills, experience inclusion, socialize with peers and form new friendships, and participate in their communities outside of traditional Special Olympics events.
Tulane was integral in the movement to bring back Special Olympics in New Orleans. In 2015, Tulane launched a Unified College Intramural Basketball League, the first of its kind in Louisiana, and one of the first in the nation. The inaugural season brought together over 50 Special Olympics athletes and 30 Tulane students. The League’s third season begins play on Feb. 23, 2018.