Hundreds of fans filled the seats of the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym on Sunday to cheer on athletes competing in the first livestreamed Special Olympics Massachusetts event at Emerson College.
Emerson Channel Sports livestreamed the event, which was also posted on the Special Olympics Massachusetts Facebook and Twitter pages. The stream lasted for almost four hours and showed the games, sideline commentary, and interviews with the athletes.
The participating teams included the North Attleboro Big Red Machine, the Brookline Cougars, the Mansfield Hornets, and the Heated Lions Seniors. Collectively, the teams competed in five games during the event.
Emerson Channel Sports executive producer CJ Rogers plays baseball for the Lions and has been involved in the Special Olympics since grade school. He said the livestream provided the athletes’ loved ones and community members who could not attend the event with a way to support the event from their homes.
Rogers also said he wanted to treat the games like any other college sporting event.
“The student-athletes are just coming together trying to make a similar atmosphere that they would want if they were to have a game on their home field,” Rogers said.
Representatives from the Emerson baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, and basketball teams, as well as the cheer squad, were present at the event. Emerson’s athletic teams and other supporters cheered on the athletes by making signs, chanting, and giving standing ovations for the kids showing their skills on the court.
Aster Cheng, freshman cheerleader, attended the event. She said that she was pleased with the strong turnout from the Lions athletic teams.
“I think it’s really sweet,” Cheng said. “It’s really great to see a lot of the Emerson teams come out and support all of these kids.”
Quinn Madden, sophomore member of the women’s basketball team, volunteered to referee. She said the student-athletes’ energy made the event more exciting for the participants.
“It feels to me like a college game, lots of hype and everyone’s really energetic and it helps the players,” Madden said. “They react to the crowd cheering for them, and I think it makes it more fun.”
The athletes appeared excited as their supporters erupted in applause whenever a player scored a basket, completed a pass, or secured a rebound.
Hornets player Thomas Keaney’s father, Sean Keaney, said his son has been involved with Special Olympics Massachusetts for one year. Thomas Keaney said he actively participates in sporting events year round.
Sean Keaney said Special Olympic programs are great events that allow his child to continue pursuing his athletic ambitions.
Sam Knox, sophomore and the master of ceremonies, said the participants’ kindness and dedication to their teams made the event special.
“It really was just an uplifting, warm atmosphere,” said Knox. “Something that I love being a part of.”