At the Games in Berlin, there are 16 Unified sports in which athletes with intellectual disabilities participate in sports together with so-called Unified partners without disabilities. The Unified observers ensure that all rules are followed.
Felix Beisler and Kilian Wich are Unified observers and monitor whether the teams in Unified basketball are really acting inclusively. If there are doubts, coaches and teams have to expect penalties.
Felix and Kilian are at the Special Olympics World Games for the first time. The two educators from near Nuremberg played for a long time in a Unified basketball team and coached another team, too. Now they switched sides and are sitting courtside at the Unified basketball games.
We host Unified basketball competitions for men's/mixed teams and for women's teams.
The observers are supposed to determine whether all athletes actually participate in the game on an equal level. Felix and Kilian each have a tablet in front of them and can use an app to record their observations of the players' behavior.
They meticulously record who is on the pitch and who is being substituted in and out. At the end of the game, this makes it possible to determine exactly who was on the pitch and for how many minutes.
"In the first three quarters of the game, all members of the team must have played at some point," Felix explains. It is further monitored that of the five players there are always three active players with ID and only two without.
"We have to follow the game closely and check whether there is any overly dominant behavior by a single player that may need to be sanctioned," explains Kilian.
In the first three quarters of the game, all members of the team must have played at some point
If this is the case, the first thing that will be done is to give a warning. If this is not enough, the player will receive a yellow card, which will be canceled after the game.
Red cards are given only to the coaches, but then they are valid for the whole tournament. With the second red card the coach has to leave the field, with the third red card the game counts as lost and with the fourth red card the team is disqualified.
But we do not want it to get that far. "With our work, we want to ensure that the teams internalize the Unified idea and then shape the game in this way," says Kilian.
Before each game, he says, this is discussed with the teams. "Since all game data is always recorded electronically with the tablets, this can then be viewed by the total of 20 obervers in basketball and used to prepare for the next game," explains Felix. That way, he says, it is easy to see if a team might be problematic.
The two observers really enjoy their work in Berlin. "It's a great atmosphere, we gain international experience and have already seen a lot," Felix Beisler and Kilian Wich say in agreement.
More information about Unified Sports® is available here: