United States Sports Academy Board of Trustees member Dr. Gary Cunningham, left, presents a Distinguished Service Award to Michael Josephson, the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

Michael Josephson, the founder of “Character Counts,” a sports program that gives coaches and parents the tools to build athletes’ character and create champions, has been named a 2009 Distinguished Service Award (DSA) winner by the United States Sports Academy.

Josephson is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, based in Los Angeles. Virtually every U.S. athletic organization endorses Josephson’s “Pursuing Victory With Honor” sportsmanship campaign. The program addresses topics with children such as problems with sports programs, healthy lifestyles and building character through sports.

Dr. Gary Cunningham, a member of the Academy’s Board of Trustees, presented Josephson with his DSA in Los Angeles.

Josephson’s “Character Counts” program focuses on six primary tenets: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship. A former law professor and businessman, Josephson sold a publishing company and a national bar exam preparation chain, left teaching behind and opened his Institute. His amazing work has been noted by UCLA, which named Josephson its 2009 Alumnus of the Year.

The DSA is given annually to those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to national or international sports through instruction, research or service. The DSA is separate from the Academy’s Awards of Sport and each recipient also receives the coveted Order of the Eagle Exemplar for their achievements.

Each nominee must possess an extensive background in sports. This means that the individual must have had significant dealings in either instruction, research or service in sports for more than 10 years.