Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott honored by Anti-Defamation League
"Americanism Award" from leading civil rights organization honors his record of promoting fairness, equality and mutual respect
By the Pac-12 Conference
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott was given the Americanism Award by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) during a tribute dinner in his honor on Tuesday in New York City, the Conference announced today.
The Americanism Award was established to honor exceptional individuals who illuminate and exemplify the noblest ideals and traditions of the United States and of the Anti-Defamation League. As he bestowed the award on Scott, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman cited Scott's own ethical principles and his exceptional history of motivating others around the core values of fairness, equality and mutual respect.
"Larry Scott has devoted his life to the principle that academic excellence, athletic achievement and human rights can be simultaneously pursued," said Foxman. "He has put his reputation on the line to further fairness and good sportsmanship and decency, the values on which sports is based."
Of particular note were two episodes in Scott's career that were connected to two of the dinner's guests: One was Scott's successful battle, waged alongside Billie Jean King during his years as CEO of the Women's Tennis Association, to achieve equal prize money for women at the four grand slam events. The other was his insistence that Shahar Pe'er and other Israeli athletes be allowed to participate in a Dubai tennis tournament, and his firm stand after Pe'er was prevented from entering the United Arab Emirates because of her Israeli nationality.
In his formal remarks, Scott discussed both episodes:
"The fight for equal prize money had an enormous impact on how all of us view the place of women in sports, and society -- and went far beyond the immediate impact of who got how much at Wimbledon," he said. "Similarly, standing up with Shahar was about much more than whether she got to play a particular tennis tournament, but rather was about basic fairness and the overriding principle that all athletes should be able to compete regardless of race, religion, nationality, or other differences."
Scott noted that his commitment to equal opportunity and cultural understanding continues in his role as Pac-12 Commissioner. He cited the Conference's international initiatives, and the vastly enlarged exposure the new Pac-12 networks give to women's and Olympic sports. But neither of those ventures, he said, would have happened without the active support of the leaders of the Conference's universities.
Despite great progress, Scott declared we have more work to do. He announced a plan to launch the "Leadership Council of Sports," a concept that he and the ADL have been developing based on a similar group in the entertainment industry, to determine how sports and athletes can help advance the ADL's objectives.
The sports-themed dinner was one of a series of special events and programs being held this year as part of the ADL's Centennial Celebration, "Imagine a World Without Hate." In addition to King and Pe'er, former UCLA basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and FOX Sports broadcaster Charles Davis relayed their personal experiences using sport to contribute to understanding and to break social and political barriers.
Scott explained the origin of his commitment to using sports to drive positive change in the world, linking it both to his personal family heritage as well as to his experience as a professional athlete after graduating from Harvard as an All-American tennis player.
"Early in my tennis career I was fortunate to be around athletes like Arthur Ashe who showed me with their actions how one can make a difference. Thanks to Arthur and others, I realized how lucky we were to be elite athletes or work in sports, and that with privilege also comes responsibility."
He continued: "We can be proud of what we have accomplished, but we must continue to use our unique sphere of influence to advocate for fairness, equality, inclusion, and respect."
About the Anti-Defamation League
The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all." Now the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.
A leader in the development of materials, programs and services, ADL builds bridges of communication, understanding and respect among diverse groups, carrying out its mission through a network of 27 Regional and Satellite Offices in the United States and an office in Israel. ADL serves as a resource for government, media, law enforcement, educators and the public.