UWentUS - The widerspread development of competitiveness in unified sports®

Such as handball, basketball, and floorball at the Special Olympics Germany

Mehrere Personen spielen inklusives Basketball

This research project occupies the interface between educational science, sport and movement pedagogy, as well as sport sociology. During the period of the Special Olympics Na-tional Games Berlin, 2022, and the World Games Berlin, 2023, the cooperativeness and rivalry of athletes and their partners in Unified Sports® competitions including basketball and handball will be investigated.

Within the field of Unified Sports®, people with intellectual disabilities (athletes) and people without (i.e., the athletes’ partners) play sports with and against each other. Competition rules state that athletes should achieve a similar level of athletic performance; however, in practice, this is often not the case. One reason is that partners tend to hold back in the game and often see themselves as supporters of athletes, an attitude which has little in common with the original understanding of the term, competition. 

In the current research project, data will be collected via interviews, questionnaires, as well as via video analysis, with the aim of achieving the following research goals:

1.    Both the conditions for success and the challenges faced during Unified Sports® competitions will be analyzed. Findings related to contests at such events, including the respective preparation phases of teams, will be collected and evaluated within the framework of field research.

2.    Competitive programs will be further developed in cooperation with Special Olympics Germany (SOD). To achieve this, a close exchange between the scientists involved in the project and SOD will be established. Officials, coaches, athletes, and athletes’ partners, as well as the SOD expert committee, whose chairman is Prof. Dr. Florian Kiuppis, will be closely involved in the joint development of alternative courses of action.

3.     Action alternatives will be practically implemented in cooperation with SOD. These practical activities will occur at the respective follow-up events, the most important of which will be the World Games Turin 2025. This event is the reason for the choice of the proect’s acronym UWentUS - whereby [juvèntus; > ~] refers to the soccer club Juventus Turin.

4.    Study findings will be transferable to other sports and in this sense will also serve sports development generally. To this end, training programs will be designed which can be applied at SOD as well as by other sports federations, in the hope that these sports federations - including regular sport competitions - will (increasingly) open up to Unified Sports® competitions.

The current research project aims to improve Unified Sports® competition practice in the coming years and hopes to facilitate, in particular, a systematization of the simultaneity of competition orientation, and inclusive orientation, in modified sports activities. This should, in turn, ultimately make an important contribution to inclusion in sports. This impact is especially important in contexts which, on the one hand, are competitively oriented, yet simultaneously, designed for all.

The project, funded by the German Federal Institute for Sport Science (BISp), is an interdisciplinary cooperation between the Catholic University of Applied Sciences Freiburg (Prof. Dr. Florian Kiuppis), Leuphana University (Prof. Dr. Jessica Süssenbach and Dr. Steffen Greve) and the University of Tübingen (Prof. Dr. Ansgar Thiel). The consortium lead for the application is the Lüneburg team and the project partner is Special Olympics Germany (SOD).




  • Prof.in Dr. Jessica Süssenbach - Leuphana Universität 
  • Dr. Steffen Greve - Leuphana Universität 
  • Prof. Dr. Ansgar Thiel - Universität Tübingen 
  • Special Olympics Deutschland (SOD) 


Mai 2022 – April 2025

Any questions? Don't hesitate to contact us!

Prof. Dr. Florian Kiuppis