Noteworthy progress in the community, anecdotes, recommendations, and more

Update on the Basketball Lottery

on April 14, 2013

So, I sent emails out to twelve different people and got a few replies. All were cordial and respectful, which was awesome! I was so taken aback by the news that I was careful to word things peacefully so it didn’t come across as being harsh. My goal was to get information and to voice my concerns.

Here is what I sent:

“It has come to my attention that there is now a “lottery” to determine who is able to attend State. So far I understand that it is based on past participation by organizations/ school districts. Please correct me if any of this information is incorrect.
I would like to know what the reasoning behind this decision was. Is this temporary or permanent? Also, what do you suggest we tell athletes who are being robbed of their opportunity to go to State? I have a great respect for all that Special Olympics Texas does but am very uncomfortable with this new rule. It is the antithesis of what the organization stands for.
Please contact me at this email as soon as possible so that I am able to better understand what is going on.”

This is the reply I recieved:

“Thank you for your email. SOTX has had to cap our basketball numbers at 125 teams for State Games. It is the maximum that can be supported and still keep a quality competition in place for our athlete in the timeframe that we have for State Games. In order to make the system fair, the areas were given a quota based on a percentage derived from the areas total teams to the total of number of teams statewide. Areas that do not use their total quota will “turn those slots in” and we will redistribute to areas who would like to send more teams.
This is not a new system. SOTX used a quota many years ago for basketball, and in addition, a quota is in place for states sending athletes to National and World Games, which is managed by Team USA. This is an accepted practice.
As for athletes/teams that do not get to go to State Games in Basketball, they still may participate in any sport that they have qualified for. We have plenty of room in Athletics, Cycling, Gymnastics, Soccer and Tennis.
Please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns.”

This woman rocked for taking time out of her schedule to reply! I hoped to dialogue about the issue to gain a better understanding, so I replied.

“Thank you for your timely reply. I want to convey with the utmost urgency that, while it may be an accepted practice at higher levels, it is not accepted by the athletes, families, and fans at the state level. People are sad and disappointed. I assure you, if this concern was unique to myself, I would not be contacting y’all. My sisters LOVE basketball. It has fostered a passion in them which we had never seen in their years of participation in track. The development I see in these girls is wholly due to the basketball program. Friends of mine who were freshmen when I graduated high school are now seniors or in transition and have blossomed as athletes and individuals since they started basketball.
My sisters do not want to do the other sports. Even if they did, our district does not offer them. They love basketball.
Is there any way we could divide the state level into two or more? I mean, there are undoubtedly hundreds to thousands who would pour everything they have into making this happen. Do you foresee this being possible in the future? I know it isn’t feasible this year, but maybe a few from now?
I just feel like there has to be something. Having so many athletes miss out isn’t what Eunice Kennedy Shriver would have wanted.”

For background, Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the Special Olympics. You can find additional info here: Heads up, audio plays when you open the page!

The woman I was corresponding with emailed one last time in response to my previous message and asked what delegation my sisters competed with. I told her and never received a reply. I TOTALLY understand how busy she is with the season going on, so no complaints about not getting a reply in the end. It is so rare to receive one from a large organization that actually addresses the content, rather than an autoreply, so I am very appreciative of her time and effort.

What do y’all think? Are there any other questions I should have asked? Let me know!

From ear 2 ear,



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