Kent State Men’s Basketball Holds Second Annual Autism Awareness Game
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many disruptions and changes to people’s lives. The Kent State University men’s basketball team has been affected, too, with schedule changes, games played in nearly empty arenas and extra safety protocols in place. However, one of the things that has not changed is the team’s steadfast commitment to autism awareness.
The Kent State men’s basketball team will hold its second annual autism awareness game at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation (MAC) Center. Autism is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. It affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. Though tickets are not being sold to Kent State games this season and fans will not be in the stands, those who tune in to the game will be able to learn more about autism while they cheer on their Golden Flashes against the Eastern Michigan University Eagles.
“The autism awareness game is one of the ways Kent State demonstrates its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Lamar R. Hylton, Ph.D., Kent State’s vice president for student affairs. “Autism impacts many students and families in our community, and raising awareness of this important issue is key to helping us embrace those who are on the autism spectrum.”
Television viewers will hear and see autism-based information shared by the broadcast team along with a halftime interview with some key individuals on the university’s campus who provide support to Kent State students on the autism spectrum. Radio listeners will hear similar information and interviews. In addition, the social media accounts for Kent State Athletics and Kent State men’s basketball will also share information about autism leading up to and during the Feb. 20 game.
“Kent State wants to increase knowledge about autism because increased awareness is a critical step in creating an inclusive and welcoming environment,” said Amoaba Gooden, Ph.D., Kent State’s vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion.
To help drive awareness, the Kent State men’s basketball team will be wearing its autism awareness uniforms. Designed by Kent State student Trenton Johnston for last year’s inaugural autism awareness game, the space on the back of these Under ArmourⓇ uniforms that is usually designated for the names of players instead will display “1 in 54,” referring to the statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that about 1 in 54 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder. The prevalence of autism has increased as last year’s uniforms cited the previous statistic that 1 in 59 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder. The Eastern Michigan Eagles’ staff will join the Golden Flashes in the awareness effort by wearing the autism puzzle pin.
Kent State’s autism awareness game will air on TV on ESPN3 and on radio on the Kent State Radio Network that is accessible at www.kentstatesports.com and on the Kent State Athletics app. The TV broadcast team is play-by-play announcer Dave Wilson with Ben Pagani, a junior journalism major at Kent State and sports director at Kent State TV2, providing color commentary. The radio broadcast team is Dan Griffin, Kent State’s director of athletics communication, as play-by-play announcer with Sean Fitzgerald, a senior journalism major at Kent State and sports director at Black Squirrel Radio, as the color commentator.
The autism awareness game is being held in collaboration with Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Student Accessibility Services.
For more information about Kent State Athletics, visit www.kentstatesports.com.
For more information about autism initiatives at Kent State, visit www.kent.edu/diversity/autism-initiatives.
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The side of the Kent State University men’s basketball uniform shorts for the autism awareness game features the autism puzzle ribbon.