POV Honors ESPN for The ESPYS and The 2018 Arthur Ashe Courage Award


From the rehearsals, to the evening of The ESPYS, there was a strong, dedicated effort to ensure that the “Sister Survivors” felt comfortable and empowered. Peace Over Violence advocates witnessed the level of consideration and thought that ESPN put into this award specifically. We knew that this entire process deserved acknowledgment and recognition. It wasn’t a “stunt for ratings,” it was an intentional decision to honor survivors everywhere.

It’s the evening before one of the most exciting days for the world of sports, The ESPYS, produced by ESPN. The crew and producers are making sure every aspect of the show is prepared for and ready to go, rehearsals have gone on all day, every light is where it needs to be, every camera positioned to capture the evening, every person ready to make this show better than the last. Then, the chaos of producing a show of this magnitude is put on hold.

ESPN chooses to honor the bravery of hundreds of athletes who were victimized by former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor, Larry Nassar, with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. Of the more than 300 survivors who came forward, 141 were flown in from all over the country for a moment that would leave everyone who witnessed their strength speechless. The last time that many of them were in a shared space, was in January of 2018, when Judge Rosemarie Aquilina gave each of them the opportunity to share their victim impact statements.

“For 25 years, the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage has been given to those who change the world in important ways, and the future will undoubtedly be different because of the actions of these heroic women,” said Maura Mandt, executive producer, The ESPYS. “This tribute will reflect the awe and admiration these individuals deserve.”

The survivors and some of their loved ones wait in a space that will transform into the green room, come showtime. The mood is mixed. There’s hugs and laughter, and excitement to see one another. Simultaneously, the trauma that these survivors have been through and that this award is not only an honor, but also a reminder of why all of these athletes were brought together, was not lost on ESPN. Of their own discretion, they contacted Peace Over Violence to have advocates present and available to the survivors and their families. These advocates were to not only be present on the evening of The ESPYS, but the day before, when ESPN made the conscious choice to share the video they created for this award with the survivors, the evening before the world would see it. The rehearsal for these survivors was not only intentional, but trauma-informed.

With this Impact Over Violence award, we are honoring every person involved in making this a positive experience for the 141 survivors, ESPN leadership, The ESPYS producers, specifically Executive Producer, Maura Mandt, Keri Potts, ESPN PR/Senior Director, and the backstage crew. We are honoring the courage, once again, of the survivors who’s stories will shift the world of sports and the movement to end sexual violence.

“We are honored to recognize the courage of these women at The 2018 ESPYS, to acknowledge the power of their voices, and to shine a very well-deserved spotlight on what speaking up, fighting back, and demanding accountability can accomplish,” said Alison Overholt, Vice President and Editor in Chief, ESPN The Magazine, espnW, and The ESPYS. “They have shown us all what it truly means to speak truth to power, and through their bravery, they are making change for future generations. By honoring this group who spoke out, we aim to honor all of those who are survivors of abuse.”

Receiving the Award on Behalf of ESPN is Alison Overholt

Alison Overholt is vice president, editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine and espnW. In this dual role, she is responsible for developing comprehensive, multiplatform content strategies for espnW and for driving collaborative, innovative approaches to storytelling in ESPN The Magazine, with oversight of producing ESPN’s multiplatform enterprise content. Overholt is the first female editor-in-chief of a national, general-interest sports magazine. In December 2017, she added oversight of all of ESPN.com’s long-form content, and in 2018, she became the lead ESPN executive for The ESPYS.

About The ESPYS

The ESPYS gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances. The 2018 ESPYS will recognize achievements in categories such as “Best MLB Player,” “Best Team,” “Best Female Athlete” and “Best Upset.” Inspiring human stories are showcased through three pillar awards – the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, the Jimmy V Perseverance Award and the Pat Tillman Award for Service. The ESPYS support ESPN’s ongoing commitment to the V Foundation for Cancer Research, launched by ESPN with the late Jim Valvano in 1993.

The Arthur Ashe Award for Courage

The Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the annual ESPYS has become one of the most prominent, prestigious, and talked-about honors in sports. Having recognized global icons like Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela, little-known heroes like Zaevion Dobson and Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, sports legends like Pat Summitt and Billie Jean King, and many more, the award pays tribute to those who find ways through sports to make a difference far beyond the field of play and impact the world in indelible ways.