The Electronic Gaming Federation, which organizes collegiate Division I esports and high school level leagues, has formed an expansive partnership with Special Olympics New Jersey to create EGFH Unified. Unified sports join people with and without disabilities (known as unified partners) on the same team to promote social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences.
The inaugural EGFH Unified season will be a five-week competition featuring up to 50 high schools across New Jersey to bring esports student-athletes into an interscholastic schedule of competition. The season will begin this spring with Rocket League and continue with rolling competitions throughout the 2021–2022 school year.
“Creating impactful experiences for students has always been the core of why EGF was founded and it’s an honor to be able to work with the Special Olympics New Jersey to celebrate these athletes through esports, ” said EGF Founder Tyler Schrodt. “Part of the magic of esports is its level of accessibility and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with SONJ to learn from their long history of impact through traditional sports to help develop these experiences for their community and recognize those athletes for their passion and their achievements. ”
Each school will have at least one unified team expected to participate in five weeks of regular competition, with a one week pre-season and four-week regular season. Players will compete for their school against teams from other schools in weekly online matches. The competition will culminate with a championship on June 4–5.
“Special Olympics New Jersey is proud to partner and work with EGF on this very important program,” said Heather Andersen, president and CEO of Special Olympics New Jersey. “Esports competitions create shared experiences for our athletes and their partners in a unique way to empower their lives and social experiences. Being the first Special Olympics organization to run a Unified esports program is even more meaningful for us and we look forward to sharing our experiences with others nationwide as this expands.”