At the age of 17, legendary sportscaster Donna de Varona appeared on ABC’s Wide World of Sports….thus becoming the youngest and one of the first women sportscasters for a national network. Her groundbreaking career has earned her an Emmy….two Gracies….and the opportunity to cover a wide variety of sports events including 17 Winter and Summer Olympic games. In 2006, she was inducted into the Museum of Television & Radio’s first class of fifty “She Made It” pioneers in media.
While de Varona continued to pursue her television career, she also began her work in Washington D.C. as an activist for sports and fitness opportunities for America’s youth. Since her retirement from competitions in 1965….she has served five terms on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports….and has been appointed to Presidential Commissions under presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush. A consultant to the United States Senate, de Varona took a leave of absence from her pioneering television career to help with the passage of the 1978 Amateur Sports Act….which restructured how Olympic sports are governed in the United States. Subsequently, she was called back to the Senate to consult on amendments to the landmark Olympic legislation….and eventually worked to promote and safeguard Title IX of the Equal Education Amendments Act which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational institution receiving Federal funding. Named a special advisor to President Clinton’s Drug Czar, General Barry McCaffrey, de Varona helped with the establishment and funding for both the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency, which are entrusted with eradicating the use of illegal substances to enhance performance in sports.
Any way you cut the pie….Donna de Varona has been a significant force in the world of sports….. as her efforts touched so many athletes around the world….and especially in the USA….for she has left her fingerprint in so many places….while affecting positively so many lives. We at ImaSportsphile are so honored to have so much of Donna de Varona’s work in our treasure chest of vintage memories here at our site…..as she deserves her place in the history of sports.