Game of the Year (Movie from 1960)

A glimpse into the past of children with intellectual/developmental disabilities.


A decade after the release of the "Children Limited" film, The Arc of Washington State produced a second film, "Game of the Year" (1960).  The difference between the two movies dramatically illustrates The Arc’s success in bringing the issue of persons with intellectual disabilities before the public.

This movie shows Governor Albert Rosellini riding in a convertible, waving to the people celebrating the fourth annual “Game of the Year”. Members of each basketball team, men from Lakeland Village and Rainier School (two institutions located in Washington State) also rode in the parade. After clips of the parade we see a stage show featuring ballerinas and singing groups formed by some of the girls and boys from the institutions and then clips of the basketball game between these two schools. The movie was not so much about the game itself, but was part of a public awareness campaign to help the public get to know these children, to be more accepting of them in their communities and to encourage their participation in shared activities.

The "Game of the Year" had become so successful that thousands of people attended each game and it was carried live by radio stations across the state.  The Master of Ceremonies was Jim Owens, the state’s popular coach of the Rose Bowl-winning, national-champion Washington Huskies football team.

According to The Arc newsletter at the time:

"It is believed that this is the first parade in which retarded persons appeared and were featured for their abilities rather than their limitations."

The film was immediately circulated nationwide from Hawaii to Connecticut. An article by The Arc of Washington State in the May 1960 American Association on Mentally Deficiency issue of the AAMD News told national disability professionals about this athletic competition between persons with intellectual disabilities -- a decade before Special Olympics was born.