Northeast Lakeview College (NLC) hosted their 2nd Annual Unified Basketball Game on March 27th, 2018. The participating athletes were members of the Northeast Lakeview College men’s basketball team that were paired with SOTX athletes from the San Antonio Fire and the Best Friends delegations. NLC started to take part in the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign in 2017 and they wanted to have an exciting culminating event that would showcase the power of inclusion. That is when the idea to host a Unified Basketball game with SOTX athletes was made possible. This year NLC decided to make the Unified Game a recurring annual event as an effort to get the surrounding community to buy into the campaign for years to come.
The basketball game started with high energy and a lot of enthusiasm from SOTX athletes and the unified partners. The gym was filled with the highest attendance the college campus has ever had for a basketball game. Spectators were enjoying the fast-paced rhythm of the game and the athletes were having a great time sharing the court with a collegiate basketball team. The first half of the game ended with a buzzer beater shot from the Best Friends Unified team, so the crowd cheered loudly and were anxious for the second half to start.
During the halftime show, while the audience was entertained by local musicians, players took a pledge to Spread the Word to End the Word. Spread the Word to End the Word is a movement which looks to end the derogatory use of the R-Word. It looks to spread awareness of the hurtful impact this word can cause and to promote the acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities. Players as well as members of the audience signed the pledge to help spread awareness of this issue.
Once the players stepped back on the court the intensity picked up where it left off. The teams were exchanging buckets and the score remained close. The San Antonio Fire Unified Team was scoring with the fast break and were dominant on the post, while the Best Friends Unified Team was hitting three pointers back to back to keep up. After a grueling and adrenaline filled game the ultimate winners were Best Friends with a score of 54-48. All in all, the game concluded with a victory for our community-as players from all teams had the opportunity to come together and promote an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance for all. Members of the surrounding community experienced the joy and happiness that inclusion can bring to everyone involved, which was the objective of this Unified Game.
SOTX and Northeast Lakeview College hope to continue this partnership for years to come!