The Special Olympics World Games begin Saturday, kicking off a week of competition and camaraderie in Los Angeles. This year's games will bring together 6,500 athletes from 165 countries, ready to go head to head across more than 20 sports.
Thousands of spectators will gather in LA to watch this celebration of the talents and perseverance of people with intellectual disabilities. But if you can't attend in person, there are many ways to keep up with the games – if you're willing to dig around a little.
ESPN announced that it will, for the first time, cover the games in its totality. "The story here is the transformative nature of what these people have overcome," ESPN president John Skipper told The Hollywood Reporter shortly after signing a deal with the Special Olympics last year. "It is about them becoming the best, most complete person that they can. That matters here more than with other competitions, so this [coverage] is a little different. It is not about strategy and analyzing and X's and O's or who won. It is about people's lives, so it will be more emotional. That's our mission here."
However, the coverage is sprinkled across many television channels, websites, and apps. Many events and stories will air on ESPN. Some will debut on its sister channel ABC. But others will not appear on TV at all. Figuring out what and where to watch turns out to be a complicated task. A spokesman for the Special Olympics wasn't aware of any full listing of how to catch each event, but here are some clues to help you track down the events you care about.
The Special Olympics website hosts a complete schedule of the events, but without any mention of how to tune into each sport. ESPN's master TV schedule lays out exactly when each channel will cover the Special Olympics, but without any mention of which events it will cover.
A better solution lies in smartphone apps and social media. The official Special Olympics app for iPhone and Android helps you keep a personalized schedule. The app is a little buggy, but its bookmark feature saves you from spelunking through menus again and again.