Sports play a big part in today’s society. From the entertainment world of music and movies, to fashion and even food, sports play a big role. It’s a way for people to come together in camaraderie, sportsmanship and just to simply have a good time. A championship win can mean so much to a hometown that’s been waiting to take home the coveted award that every other team desires. An athlete can bring home a gold medal and in that moment, inspire their whole country. Sports are a powerful force, and you don’t necessarily have to be a fan or an athlete to feel the impact.

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The ESPYS are like The Academy Awards of the sports universe. Winning an ESPY Award (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award) is a significant accomplishment awarded yearly to an individual or a team that has showcased athletic achievement or a sports-related performance, with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award being one of the most-coveted. According to ESPN, the award is “meant to honor individuals whose contributions transcend sports through courageous action. Sometimes that courage is demonstrated over the course of a lifetime and sometimes it is demonstrated in a single act that shines a light on an important contemporary issue.”

Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe was a top ranked tennis player in the 1960s and 70s, and the first African-American male tennis player to win the U.S. Open, along with two other grand slam titles. As an athlete he made strides to succeed in a sport where he was a seen as the minority, but outside the tennis court is where he made a long-lasting impact. Ashe was an individual committed to social justice, health and humanitarian issues and sought to reach out to communities and individuals who were not exposed to many opportunities including education and welfare.

Throughout the years, winners of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award have exemplified the same courage and impact in the world as Arthur Ashe and his legacy. Past award winners include: Muhammad Ali (1997), Afghan female athletes (2006), Nelson Mandela (2009), Robin Roberts (2013) and Michael Sam (2014). The 2015 recipient has been announced to be awarded to Caitlyn Jenner. Courage comes in many forms, and the impact through action speaks more beyond the game.

The ESPYS will be hosted by Joel McHale on ABC, Wednesday, July 15.

Story By: Amanda Del Mar
Images By: ESPN, Arthur Ashe Learning Center