Rick Reilly, a longtime sportswriter for Sports Illustrated and ESPN.com, author of 10 books, ESPN and ABC sportscaster and television host, and sports connoisseur, received the United States Sports Academy’s 2011 Ronald Reagan Media Award.
During his 30-year career, Reilly’s insightful sports commentary has informed millions of readers often making them laugh out loud and sometimes angry, but always entertained.
Reilly received the award Tuesday, March 13 in a presentation at his Hermosa Beach, Calif., home from Dr. Gary Cunningham, an Academy Board of Trustees member and former University of California, Santa Barbara director of athletics.
Reilly said he felt undeserving of the award given all of the prominent media representatives who have won it in the past but was honored. “It is my pleasure and privilege,” Reilly said. The always humorous Reilly added: “Although, when I wear my medal to the grocery store, people might give me funny looks.”
The Academy’s Ronald Reagan Media Award, named in honor of the 40th President of the United States, is presented annually to an individual for outstanding contributions to sport through broadcasting, print, photography or acting. The individual, like this year’s award winner, should exhibit imagination, excitement and genius in kindling a keen public interest and appreciation for the role of sport in modern society.
Currently, Reilly writes the “Life of Reilly,” column for ESPN.com and hosts ESPN’s “Homecoming,” a unique TV show that is a one-on-one interview shot in the hometown of an A-list athlete, such as Magic Johnson, Michael Phelps and John Elway, in front of a few thousand of the athlete’s closest friends, family and teammates. In addition, he is a television essayist for all of ESPN and ABC’s major golf coverage and is a contributor to SportsCenter. Reilly recently authored his tenth book, “Sports from HELL,” which was his quest for the stupidest sport in the world.
Reilly’s career included 23 years with Sports Illustrated, including the last 10 years there writing the first signed weekly opinion column in the magazine’s long history. His work has earned him numerous awards, including being voted National Sportswriter of the Year 11 times and the New York Newspaper Guild’s Page One Award for Best Magazine Story. He also won the 2009 Damon Runyon Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism, an honor previously won by Jimmy Breslin, Tim Russert, Bob Costas, Mike Royko, George Will, Ted Turner and Tom Brokaw, among others.
He not only writes about sports, he participates. Reilly survived (twice) the running with the bulls of Pamplona, Spain, in July 2010. He has flown upside down at 600 miles per hour in an F-14, jumped from 14,000 feet with the U.S. Army Parachute Team, driven a stock car 142 miles per hour, piloted the Goodyear blimp, competed against 107 women for a spot in the WNBA, worked three innings of play-by-play for the Colorado Rockies, bicycled with Lance Armstrong, driven a monster truck over six parked cars, worked as a rodeo bullfighter, and found out the hard way how many straight par 3s he’d have to play before he made a hole in one (694).
Besides his many other projects, Reilly is the founder of the anti-malaria effort Nothing But Nets (NothingButNets.net), which in partnership with the United Nations Foundation has raised nearly $32 million to hang mosquito nets over kids in Africa, where 3,000 children die every day of the disease.