Berman, who joined the startup sports cable network in 1979, has served as host on a variety of ESPN studio shows, including “SportsCenter,” “Sunday NFL Countdown,” “NFL PrimeTime” and “Baseball Tonight.” He has covered 34 Super Bowls, 30 MLB All-Star Games and Home Run Derbys, and 29 World Series. The host of ESPN’s NFL Draft telecast since 1987, Berman has served as emcee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony 16 times. He also covered golf’s U.S. Open for 29 years, serving as both host and play-by-play announcer from 2003 to 2014.
The award is named for the late USA Today and Freedom Forum/Newseum founder Al Neuharth, a South Dakota native, and is co-sponsored by the University of South Dakota. Berman will be the 30th person to receive the Award for Excellence, which honors lifetime achievement, since the first presentation to legendary CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite. Berman is the first sports journalist to receive the honor.
“Chris Berman is recognized throughout the nation for the innovation, enthusiasm, depth and emphasis on excellence in sports broadcasting that marked his work and ESPN from the beginning,” said Gene Policinski, chief operating officer of the Newseum Institute, which presents the award. “Both USA Today and ESPN were in their infancy in the early 1980s, and both became trendsetters in their respective fields by challenging conventional thinking about sports coverage and journalism.”
The award will be presented during the weeklong Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference, an annual symposium at the Newseum for 51 of the nation’s top high school students with an interest in journalism as a career.
The Newseum is dedicated to free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. Through exhibits, programs and education, the Newseum works to ensure that these fundamental freedoms remain strong and protected both today and for future generations. Headquartered on historic Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the Newseum’s compelling, dynamic and engaging exhibits, programs and education initiatives help ensure that these fundamental freedoms remain strong and protected both today and for future generations. The Newseum Institute promotes the study, exploration and education of the challenges confronting freedom through its First Amendment Center and the Religious Freedom Center. The Newseum is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including the Freedom Forum.
ESPN, the world’s leading sports entertainment company, features more than 50 assets — eight U.S. television networks, ESPN International, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine and more. ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc. (an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company) and 20 percent by The Hearst Corporation.