Tag Archives: Povich Center

Winning Lacy-Smith Award ‘Puts Me In The Company Of My Idols,’ Michael Wilbon Says

Left to right: George Solomon, Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser. (Photo: Steven Dilsizian)

Left to right: George Solomon, Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser. (Photo: Steven Dilsizian)

By Steven Dilsizian
For The Povich Center
May 9, 2018

WASHINGTON — Michael Wilbon, a sportswriter and co-host of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” was filled with emotion after becoming the fourth winner of the Sam Lacy-Wendell Smith Award at a luncheon Sunday at Nationals Park in Washington.

“Overwhelming. It’s overwhelming to me,” Wilbon said of winning the award.

Many of Wilbon’s family members, colleagues, and friends gathered at the stadium to watch the longtime sports columnist graciously accept an award named after the two late African American journalists who were Wilbon’s role models.

“It puts me in the company of my idols,” Wilbon said. “These guys [Lacy and Smith] didn’t want to hear about what couldn’t be done … they helped integrate baseball.”

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism presents the Lacy-Smith Award annually to a journalist who utilizes their platform to focus on improving racial and gender equality in sports. Throughout his career, Wilbon has never shied from shedding light on inequalities in sports and improving the social discourse.

While Wilbon has won numerous other awards, this one, he said, was different.

“I’m proud of other awards I’ve gotten, but when you are put in a certain company, your behavior ought to be scrutinized,” Wilbon said. “Does he live up to the bar that they [Lacy and Smith] set? The accountability that is involved is overwhelming.”

Lacy and Smith were pioneers in the sports journalism field. Lacy was the first African American accepted into the Baseball Writers Association of America, while Smith was writing for a major daily newspaper during a time when African Americans rarely had such opportunities. Both Lacy and Smith were recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors with the Red Smith Award for their distinguished careers in sports journalism.

Lacy and Smith were able to make strides during their time in the field of sports journalism and spent their entire careers campaigning for racial equality in sports, including pushing for years for the integration of Major League Baseball and covering Jackie Robinson’s first year in the major leagues in 1947.

Wilbon, who has worked in sports journalism for almost 40 years, said there are still societal changes that need to be made.

“I think there are some tough times on the horizon because we now have a world in which exclusion is becoming trendy,” Wilbon explained.

Wilbon grew up in Chicago and attended Northwestern University. He had two summer internships at The Washington Post before being hired full-time in 1980. He currently works for ESPN and ABC — he co-hosts “Pardon the Interruption,” covers the NBA and writes columns for The Undefeated.

His longtime colleague at The Post and ESPN, Tony Kornheiser, presented the award to Wilbon.

“If you’re quicker, if you’re sharper, if you’re smarter … you’re going to get the job, that’s how it works,” Kornheiser said. “That leads me to presenting this award to my friend Mike Wilbon of almost 40 years now, who’s quicker and smarter and sharper than the other guy.”

Kevin Blackistone, a sports columnist at The Post and Merrill College professor, has known Wilbon since 1977, when they tattended Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.

“Mike deserves [the award] because like Smith and Lacy, he’s very much been a pioneer in terms of the way we cover sports and the way we think about sports,” Blackistone said. “He’s not afraid to talk about the importance of race and sports.”

Blackistone also spoke at the luncheon, as did Lynn and David Povich, children of the late Shirley Povich; Lucy A. Dalglish, dean of Merrill College; Jackie Lewis, vice president for university relations for the University of Maryland; and Damion Thomas, curator of sports at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Another one of Wilbon’s Northwestern classmates, USA TODAY sports columnist Christine Brennan, said Wilbon is more than deserving of the award.

“To see this today, this is a culmination of everything that Mike lives and breathes,” Brennan said. “For him, this has never been a job.”

It was difficult for Brennan to distill Wilbon and his accomplishments into one word, but she described her friend and colleague as simply “spectacular.”

Wilbon joins Claire Smith, James Brown and William Rhoden as a winner of the Lacy-Smith Award. Wilbon has a simple message to the future winners: “We have a responsibility to live up to the behavior, the conduct, the passion, the intellect, the ability to discern … we have to live up to the bar [Lacy and Smith] set.”

“Michael Wilbon is cut from the same mold as Sam Lacy and Wendell Smith,” said George Solomon, director of the Povich Center. “They spoke up for what they perceived was right for sports and the country. So does Mike Wilbon.”

Standing-Room-Only Crowd Attends ‘Women, Sports and Media’ Conference at Merrill College

COLLEGE PARK (4/23/18) — A standing-room-only crowd of sports journalists, academic researchers, students and others convened at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism last week for a conference on women in sports and sports media.

“Women, Sports and Media: Coverage, Careers, Consequences,” hosted by espnW and The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism, brought together pioneering women in sports journalism and academics who have studied news organizations’ coverage of women’s sports and opportunities for women in the sports media industry.

Purdue University Associate Professor Cheryl Cooky, one of the conference’s two keynote speakers, said her research showed that women’s sports are covered less — and often differently — than men’s sports. Afternoon research presentations by other scholars participating in the conference further examined that trend and discussed ways to address it.

Claire Smith, coordinating editor for ESPN, was the conference’s second keynote speaker. Smith was the first woman to cover Major League Baseball full-time. Last year, she won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award — the top honor for a baseball writer. She struck a hopeful note in her address, saying the sports journalism profession was in good hands.

Panel discussions throughout the day examined the role of women in sports journalism over time. Alison Overholt, editor in chief of espnW and ESPN the Magazine, moderated a discussion among USA TODAY columnist Christine Brennan, Washington Post reporter Liz Clarke, Golf Channel executive producer Molly Solomon and University of Tennessee Associate Professor Erin Whiteside about how they got into the business and dealt with harassment along the way.

Later, ESPN The Undefeated deputy editor Raina Kelley moderated a discussion among ESPN enterprise reporter Bonnie Ford, sports journalist Monica McNutt, ESPN senior writer Alyssa Roenigk and espnW senior writer Mechelle Voepel about how the coverage of women’s sports has changed over time.

The day wrapped with the screening of an excerpt from “Let Them Wear Towels,” a documentary about women covering men’s professional sports being barred from the locker room. Sports journalist and entrepreneur Bonnie Bernstein (’92) then moderated a film discussion among Smith, sports journalist and author Melissa Ludtke, sports analyst Beth Mowins and New York Times sports reporter Juliet Macur.

For more information, contact:
Alexander A. Pyles
aapyles@umd.edu
301-405-1321

Michael Wilbon Wins Povich Center’s Sam Lacy-Wendell Smith Award

Michael Wilbon on the set of ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption."

Michael Wilbon on the set of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption.”

COLLEGE PARK (3/15/18) — Michael Wilbon, a sportswriter, columnist and television commentator for almost 40 years, is the winner of the fourth annual Sam Lacy-Wendell Smith award presented by the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland. The award is presented to a journalist who has made significant contributions to racial and gender equality in sports.

Wilbon, the co-host of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” with Tony Kornheiser since 2001, was an intern, sportswriter and columnist for The Washington Post for 31 years before leaving the newspaper in 2010 to devote himself full-time to ESPN.

The previous winners of the award were Claire Smith of ESPN, James Brown of CBS Sports and William Rhoden, formerly of The New York Times and now with ESPN’s “The Undefeated.”

The award will be presented to Wilbon on May 6 during a luncheon at Nationals Park in Washington.

“Michael Wilbon has for nearly four decades demonstrated the fearlessness needed to confront the inequalities in sports that Sam Lacy and Wendell Smith wrote about their whole careers,” said television host Maury Povich, whose late father Shirley Povich was a sports columnist for The Washington Post for 75 years. “How wonderful for Michael to be recognized.”

Of Wilbon winning the award, George Solomon, director of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and Wilbon’s former editor at The Post, said: “Michael Wilbon’s career epitomizes why we established the award and what the award means. Since he began his career, Mike has written and talked about racial and gender equality in sports and stood up for those qualities his entire professional life.”

Lacy, the longtime sports editor for the Baltimore Afro-American, as well as other publications, was the first African-American member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Lacy won the Associated Press Sports Editors Red Smith Award for contributions to sports journalism in 1998. He died in 2003 at the age of 99.

Smith worked for a number of African-American newspapers, as well as the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. He was a chronicler of Jackie Robinson while working for the Pittsburgh Courier and with Lacy pushed Branch Rickey to sign Robinson for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945. (Robinson’s first year with the Dodgers, breaking the MLB modern-day color barrier, was 1947). Smith, who died in 1972 at age 58, won the Red Smith Award in 2014.

“I grew up in Chicago, fortunate enough as a kid to both read Wendell Smith as a sportswriter and watch him on WGN, then I worked in Washington, D.C., at a time when I could both read Sam Lacy in the Afro and be in his company at events,” Wilbon said of winning the award named for the two journalists. “And it gives me goose bumps to receive any award created in the honor of those two icons. Honored doesn’t adequately describe my feeling.”

Wilbon, a native of Chicago, attended Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism (he is a member of the Board of Trustees) and interned at The Washington Post in 1979 and 1980 before being hired full-time by The Post in 1980. Before becoming a sports columnist at The Post in 1990, he covered Howard University, Georgetown, Maryland, the NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS and 10 Olympic Games.

In addition to co-hosting PTI with Kornheiser, Wilbon has been an NBA commentator for years for ESPN and ABC and writes occasional columns for ESPN.com. He also has co-authored books with NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.

He and his wife, Sheryl, are the parents of a 10-year-old son, Matthew Raymond. They live in Bethesda, MD.

About the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism is a resource for journalists, academics and the public who want to explore the complex role of sports in society. The center is led by its director, George Solomon, who was assistant managing editor for sports at The Washington Post from 1975-2003.

For more information, please email katerp@umd.edu, call her at 301-405-4210 or visit www.povichcenter.org

Merrill College, Povich Center Panel Tackles Social Media, Sports Journalism

Povich Center Director George Solomon introduces the panel at Bleacher Report. (Photo by Mason Levinson)

Povich Center Director George Solomon introduces the panel at Bleacher Report. (Photo by Mason Levinson)

COLLEGE PARK (3/12/18) — Athletes’ ability to communicate directly with fans through social media hasn’t made sports journalism obsolete — but it has dramatically changed the way journalists do their jobs.

That was the message delivered last week by a panel convened by the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and hosted by the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism and University of Maryland Alumni Association at Bleacher Report headquarters in New York.

“It’s an area that’s increasingly important in the journalistic coverage of sports,” Povich Center Director George Solomon said. “The panelists, and moderator Kevin Blackistone, did a great job conveying its importance.”

The panelists — Jermaine Spradley, executive editor at Bleacher Report; Frank Isola (’87), sportswriter at New York Daily News; Kevin Merida, editor-in-chief at ESPN’s The Undefeated; Tina Cervasio (’96), lead sports anchor at Fox5 NY; Rachel McNair (M.J. ’16), broadcast associate for CBS Sports; Drew Rauso (’14), creative producer for The Players’ Tribune; and Brittany Cheng (’16), social media producer for SB Nation — spoke before a gathering of about 100 University of Maryland alumni.

The discussion was preceded by a reception sponsored by three Maryland companies: Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Sagamore Spirit in Baltimore and Big Cork Vineyards in Rohrersville

Several alumni helped plan the event. Rosemary Ostmann (’93), president and CEO of RoseComm, secured the sponsors and helped shape the panel’s topic and select participants with Josh Fendrick (’13), the senior manager of branded content at Bleacher Report. Fendrick then helped execute the plan and offered his company’s new headquarters as the evening’s venue.

“Whenever we have an event in New York, our alumni line up in excitement and offer their workplaces,” Dean Lucy A. Dalglish said. “They work in really interesting newsroom environments and are eager to show them off.”

Fendrick said he’s “proud to be a part of the Maryland journalism family” and was excited to show off his workplace while hosting the evening’s discussion.

“Everyone I talked to was excited with the panelists we had,” Fendrick said. “It was a really good mix of established veterans and people in the journalism industry.”

He said those in attendance appreciated learning about the changing role of journalists.

“Social media hasn’t eliminated journalists,” he said. “It’s just given them another thing to report on.”

Ostmann echoed that. She said it’s important that the college be a leader in these conversations because it’s training the next generation of journalists.

“To have a really honest dialogue around these direct channels and what it all means is very important now,” Ostmann said. “I felt like a lot of tough questions were being asked, and people were being challenged.

“I think we’re only going to ensure the sustainability of the industry if we ask these questions and work together to answer them.”

She was also grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with fellow alumni — more than 200 miles north of campus.

“For me as an alum, these events have been a great reminder of the impressive people coming through the Philip Merrill College of Journalism,” Ostmann said. “To have the opportunity to connect with such a diverse group has been great.”

Dalglish encouraged other New York-area alumni to get in touch for future events.

“If you work in a really cool place and you want to show it off, host us next year,” she said.

For more information, contact:
Alexander A. Pyles
aapyles@umd.edu
301-405-1321

Ford (’76), McDonough (’04) win ‘Distinguished Terrapin’ awards

Bob Ford (left) and Heather McDonough are "Distinguished Terrapin" award winners.

Bob Ford (left) and Heather McDonough are the 2017 “Distinguished Terrapin” award winners.

Bob Ford (’76) of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Heather McDonough (’04) of NBC4 Washington are winners of this year’s “Distinguished Terrapin” awards, to be presented by the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at a luncheon Tuesday, Nov. 7, at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center at the University of Maryland.

Also honored at the luncheon with a “Special Recognition” award will be Olive Reid and Carl Sessions Stepp, two beloved members of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism community. Additionally, Kevin Anderson and Garry D. Howard will be honored for their contributions to the Povich Center.

A native of College Park, Md., Ford began his sports journalism career at The (Easton, Md.) Star Democrat in 1976, moving to The Delaware County (Pa.) Daily Times in 1981. Ford joined the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1987. There, he was the NBA beat writer for six years, long-form feature and Olympics reporter for 10 years and has been the general sports columnist since 2003.

He is a six-time winner of the Pennsylvania Sportswriter of the Year award given by the National Sports Media Association, a two-time top 10 columnist in the large circulation division of the Associated Press Sports Editors and won the Eclipse Award for outstanding feature writing on thoroughbred racing in 2005.

A native of Marlboro, N.J., McDonough began her career as a production assistant for Fox5 WTTG in Washington, D.C. She was an assignment editor for CSN Mid-Atlantic starting in November 2004, before moving to Secaucus, N.J., to be an assignment editor for the MLB Network. She moved back to the D.C. area in June 2010 to become a sports producer at Fox5 WTTG and in August 2011 she became a senior sports producer at NBC4.

​”Bob Ford and Heather McDonough winning the Povich Center’s ‘Distinguished Terrapin’ awards is another example of the professional excellence displayed by graduates of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism,” Povich Center Director George Solomon said. “The College is extremely proud of their professional accomplishments.”

Ford and McDonough will receive their awards during a Nov. 7 luncheon at the University of Maryland. That night, the 12th annual Shirley Povich Symposium will discuss “The Changing Winds in Sports” with Christine Brennan, Bob Costas, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. The discussion will be moderated by Maury Povich.

About the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism:

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland is a resource for journalists, academics and the public who want to explore the complex role of sports in society. The Center is led by its director, George Solomon, who was assistant managing editor for sports at The Washington Post from 1975-2003.