When we think about NBA basketball games, or virtually anything that is sports-related, loud noises and bright lights immediately hit us – right between the eyes and ears. The excitement and crowds are definitely part of the atmosphere and usually helps get energy levels up. But that level of noise and light isn’t always a good thing. If someone is prone to overstimulation due to autism, PTSD, dementia or other sensory-processing disorders, overstimulation could cause a meltdown and panic or anxiety attack. It’s not just sports games; even crowded stores can bring on panic attacks. This was the concern driving the design of the newly opened NBA store in New York City.
In order to be more inclusive and assist those sensory sensitive fans, the NBA’s flagship store in New York City has become the first sensory-inclusive retail store in the world. To do this, the NBA partnered with KultureCity, a nonprofit that works to help make public spaces become more sensory-inclusive. The new NBA store offers bags containing fidget spinners, weighted lap pads, and noise-cancelling headphones to those individuals who may need them. In addition, the NBA store staff is trained to better understand, interact with, and identify visitors who may need assistance during shopping.
The NBA’s initiatives go beyond the store. There are now 14 NBA arenas equipped for the fans who need additional attention to deal with sensory needs. Four of the arenas have dedicated quiet sensory rooms to help fans. The objective of the programs is to enable the NBA to be fully inclusive and accessible to all.
Inclusion – it’s a good move on the court, and in the store.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Poll students: Do they know someone who has sensory challenges and needs?
- Show a video highlighting the new store: https://youtu.be/zchmSWP1630
- Show a video about how one arena helps sensory challenged guests: https://youtu.be/3QRQKhGz6_4
- Also show the KultureCity Web site: https://www.kulturecity.org/
- Are there other venues or locations that could benefit from this approach?
- How should the NBA market this initiative?
Source: Martin, B. (2 April, 2018). NBA store in New York becomes world’s first sensory-inclusive retail store. NBA.com.