Ebersol Receives Sports for Youth Honor rss
Legendary television executive Dick Ebersol, who elevated the Olympic Games to worldwide heights and who has produced eight of the 10 most-watched televised events in American history, was honored April 13th by UJA-Federation of New York’s Sports for Youth initiative.
“I loved sports. Sports took me to a different place,” said Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics, recalling his childhood. “This luncheon is about finding that same opportunity for kids today,” he said to the more than 200 people at the UJA-Federation Entertainment, Media & Communications Division awards luncheon at the Grand Hyatt New York.
“UJA-Federation could not have picked a more deserving person to honor,” said Jeff Zucker, president and chief executive officer of NBC Universal, and himself last year’s recipient of UJA-Federation’s Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award. “He is one of the most caring individuals I have ever met. I truly think they had Dick in mind when they coined the word mensch.”
Russell E. Wolff, executive vice president of ESPN International and chair of Sports for Youth, explained that the group helps youths from different backgrounds to have increased opportunities through sports. As examples, he said one of the 30 grants in the past year went to a baseball league for children on the autistic spectrum in Westchester, another went to the Israel Sport Center for the Disabled, and a third went to a Soccer for Peace program in Israel.
Ebersol was praised throughout the lunch for his humanitarian work, including his efforts for children and adults with disabilities. He deflected much of the praise, pointing to his wife, Susan Saint James, and citing her tireless work for the Special Olympics.
Olympic Torch Presented
Wolff presented Ebersol with an Olympic Torch donated and signed by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, and then auctioned off a second one. It was won by NBA Commissioner David Stern, a founder of Sports for Youth, who in turn gave it to Ebersol.
Donna Orender, president of the WNBA and also chair of Sports for Youth, thanked Ebersol, for his “incredible gift of caring and friendship.”
In a video made for the event, NBC sportscaster and Olympics host Bob Costas praised Ebersol as “the biggest of big game producers,” as well as someone long involved in humanitarian projects. Dan Hicks, the lunch program’s emcee and NBC golf host, said, “He cares about children very, very deeply.”
Besides Orender, Stern, and Zucker, the other event chairs were NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman; Sandy Montag, senior corporate vice president of IMG Sports and Entertainment; and Ken Schanzer, president of NBC Universal Sports.