by Alex Lichtig (SMBA ’16)
In conjunction with participation in the Doha Goals conference, SDSU Sports MBA students were treated to a spectacular and inspiring Opening Ceremony for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. The Opening Ceremony was held in the storied Los Angeles Coliseum and featured thousands of athletes from 165 countries around the world. The SDSU Sports MBA students in attendance, who hail from three different countries, all had a chance to cheer for their nation’s athletes as they entered the Coliseum.
The Opening Ceremony, broadcast live on ESPN, featured notable speakers and entertainers. A special video from U.S. President Barack Obama opened the ceremony. In the video, President Obama lauded the athletes for their inspiration and wished them all good luck in the games. With the President unavailable to attend the Opening Ceremony in person, First Lady Michelle Obama served as the keynote speaker. Michelle Obama said, “My husband and I, we are so proud of you, so incredibly proud of you, and we love you all from the bottom of our hearts.”
Other highlights included an inspirational story from successful NFL running back Jamaal Charles. Charles got his athletic start in the Special Olympics and credits the games in building his confidence to succeed at football. Stevie Wonder also performed and proclaimed to the athletes, “You are the special people of the world. You are the ones that will make a difference every single day. Your courage, your desire to make the world better by showing your love … [and] in the way that you carry yourself.”
The Ceremony concluded with the lighting of the torch and a spectacular fireworks display. Although the students and fans in attendance all cheered for different countries, the inspirational atmosphere created by the athletes was felt equally by all.