The United States Sports Academy's Awards of Sport Program

Education, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

The United States Sports Academy's Awards of Sport Program


As a special mission graduate school of sport, the United States Sports Academy does not field powerhouse football or basketball teams. What it does have is "The Awards of Sport Program," which has become a dynasty of its own in the field of sport and art. With honorees ranging from President George H. W. Bush and Russian Premier Gorbachev, to ESPN's Dick Vitale and Congressman Jim Ryun, from St Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGuire to tennis great Steffi Graf, the Academy=s Awards of Sport program has earned the recognition of sport professionals throughout the world.

The Awards of Sport program, properly titled "Awards of Sport: A Tribute to the Artist and the Athlete," is unique in that it annually honors both the artist and the athlete for their cultural and athletic contributions to society. The specific nature of the awards to artists has been explained in the preceding article concerning the American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA). Over the years, the awards have expanded to honor exemplary achievement in coaching, all-around athletic performance, courage, humanitarian activity, sport management, fitness, and media, as well as honoring the top professional athletes of the year. Also, world-renown artists such as Charles Billich, Hans Erni, Cristobal Gabarron, Ernie Barnes, and Mina Papatheodorou-Valyraki have been recognized for their contributions in sport art.

After the Sport Artist of the Year award, there are three other categories of awards presented to deserving recipients. Those three categories are the Medallion Series, the Distinguished Service Awards, and the Athlete of the Year Awards.

In addition to the Awards of Sport Program, the Academy's Executive Committee periodically confers honorary doctorate degrees to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding lifetime leadership and achievement.

On the cover of this edition is a picture of Ted Turner delivering his address at the Academy's Graduation Celebration 2001. At those ceremonies Turner, considered one of the most powerful people in sport, was recognized by the Academy with an honorary doctorate. Mr. Turner was presented the Order of the Eagle Exemplar in recognition of, among other accomplishments, the role he played in bringing down the Iron Curtain by the founding of the Goodwill Games.

Turner originated the Goodwill Games in 1985 as a quadrennial, multi-sport, international, world-class competition. The inaugural Goodwill Games were held in July 1986 in Moscow and were followed by the 1990 Games in Seattle, Washington, the 1994 Games in St. Petersburg, Russia, and most recently 1998 Games in New York City.

Turner was also the Academy's commencement speaker at the 2001 graduation celebration and a picture of him delivering that address is on the cover of this edition. In addressing the graduating class and guests, he related how he had attempted many ventures, but finally found success as a yachtsman who won the America's Cup races in 1977.

The Academy deemed it not only appropriate to honor Mr. Turner in this way, but felt it necessary to do so since his contributions have been significant in many fields. A few of Mr. Turner's distinguished accomplishments include:

1. Vice Chairman of AOL Time Warner, Inc., the world's leading media company

2. Owner/manager of professional sports teams, among these the 1995 World Champion Atlanta Braves

3. Winner of several prestigious yachtsman awards and national and world sailing titles, including the 1977 Americas Cup Winner, the 1979 Fast-net Trophy, and four Yachtsman of the Year Awards;

4. Named Time magazine's 1991 Man of the Year for his role as an active environmentalist.

Mr. Turner serves as a stellar example of the distinguished international leaders that the Academy recognizes with its Awards of Sport program.

The foundation of the Awards of Sport Program is the Medallion Series. …

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