Special Olympics Arizona
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Athlete Benefits & Basic Rules & Divisioning


Competition and training provide benefits far beyond medals and ribbons for those that participate. Children and adults with intellectual disabilities who participate in Special Olympics develop improved physical fitness and motor skills, greater self-confidence and a more positive self-image. They grow mentally, socially and spiritually and, through their activities, exhibit boundless courage and enthusiasm, enjoy the rewards of friendship and ultimately discover not only new abilities and talents but their “voices” as well.


Competitions are conducted according to the Official Special Olympics Sports Rules Book. Special Olympics Rules are available to anyone by going online to www.SpecialOlympics.org.

To enhance the competitive spirit, Special Olympics organizes its competitions to ensure that, whenever possible, athletes compete against other athletes of similar ability. This process is called divisioning.

Divisioning allows each athlete to perform to the best of his/her ability and ensures that each athlete’s performance is considered a personal victory, regardless of the athlete’s place of finish.

An athlete’s ability is the primary factor in divisioning Special Olympics competition. The ability of an athlete or team is determined by an entry score from a prior competition or is the result of a seeding round or preliminary event at the competition itself. Other factors that are significant in establishing competitive divisions are age and gender. Ideally, competition is enhanced when each division accommodates at least three and no more than eight competitors or teams of similar ability. In some cases, however, the number of athletes or teams within competition will be insufficient to achieve this goal.

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