“I believe that sport is a birthright and everyone should have access to sport.” – Anita DeFrantz
In August athletes and sports advocates from around the world gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the largest international sporting event, The Olympic Games. Among this group was Anita DeFrantz, who has worn many hats as she has been a member of the Olympic community — Olympian, medal winner, IOC and USOC member, athlete advocate, mayor of the Olympic Village, and more. A legend in her own right, this year Ms. DeFrantz also became our fourth Humanitarian Award recipient.
The Foundation for Global Sports Development’s Humanitarian Award was established in 2010 and is presented to individuals and organizations that have stepped up as leaders and champions for social, economic, political, or environmental justice and equality. This award honors those who actively fight against indifference, injustice and intolerance. It recognizes those who promote an international spirit of understanding, cooperation, friendship, and development.
Anita L. DeFrantz has dedicated most of her life to advocating for the rights of athletes and opening doors for youth to participate in sport. In 1980 she famously spearheaded a lawsuit against the United States Olympic Committee for disallowing Team USA for the boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Her colleagues quickly recognized her determination and love of sport. Since that time she has been appointed to numerous committees and boards with the International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee, and many other associations.
As the Director of the LA84 Foundation for nearly 30 years, DeFrantz worked tirelessly in the Southern California region to increase access to sport for children, especially those from underserved communities. During this time thousands of youth experienced the joy of sport and all it has to offer.
David Ulich and Dr. Steven Ungerleider, GSD’s Executive Board Members, presented Anita with the award and a grant of $100,000 to be donated to any organization of Anita’s choosing. She chose to share this award with three organizations she holds close to her heart: LA Rows, CAST (Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking), and Safe Sport, a program of the USOC. John Coates, Vice-President of the IOC, was the guest speaker, and he shared memories of Anita and spoke warmly of her endeavors, noting “She’s devoted her life to equality, to ensuring children all have access to sport. She is a champion of social justice.”
Watch our tribute video to Anita DeFrantz below:
View photos from the 2016 Humanitarian Award reception in Rio de Janeiro: