Every summer since 1993, ESPN has presented its annual Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly (ESPY) Awards in honor of the best and most memorable individual and team players and moments from the past year in athletics. For the first seven years, the ESPY ceremony took place in New York, first at Madison Square Garden from 1993-1994, then at Radio City Music Hall from 1995-1999. During the years 2000-2001, the ceremony was held in Las Vegas; and from 2002-2007, the awards show has been held in Hollywood, at the Kodak Theatre. In 2008, the show moved to the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, where it has been held since then. Until 2002, the ESPY awards ceremony was held and broadcast in February or March on ESPN. Beginning that year, however, the awards ceremony moved to the Wednesday in July that follows the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, a rare point during the year when no other major professional athletic league in North America has no games scheduled, with the NBL, NFL, and NHL out of season, and no possibility of baseball games being contested by MLB on the day after the all-star-game. That way, all invited athletes can be available to make an appearance at the ESPY Awards Ceremony. Then, although winners are announced online on ESPN.com and from other media sources immediately after filming, the show is broadcast on ESPN on the Sunday following the actual ceremony.
ESPN donates portions of the proceeds from each ceremony are donated to The V Foundation, a charity established by Jim Valvano, college basketball coach and television sports commentator, with the mission to promote cancer research. He had established the foundation only shortly before dying from metastatic adenocarcinoma. His death occurred almost two months following the first ESPY awards ceremony, at which he had been honored the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, which honors personal courage and activeness in charity beyond the realm of sports.
Infusing a hip factor into the ceremony are contemporary celebrities and comedians – such as Seth Meyers, Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Tony Danza, Jimmy Kimmel, LeBron James, and Justin Timberlake – usually host each year’s show, which also features comedic sketches between the distribution of awards to their recipients. It’s the fresh choice of host that makes the Espy award one of the coolest honors in all of crystal awards.
Other ESPY Award categories include Best Male Athlete, Best Female Athlete, Best Breakthrough Athlete, Best Coach/Manager, and Team of the Year, as well as honors for the top plays and top moments from the year. Awards are given in bowling, angling, driving, fighting, golfing, tennis, track, jockeying, and of course basketball, football, and soccer. Other awards transcending specific sports include Best Championship Performance, Best Male/Female College Athlete, Best Comeback Athlete, Best Game, Best Moment, Best Upset, Best Play, Best record-Breaking Performance, Best Sports Movie, and more.
ESPY Award winners are chosen online, with votes submitted by sports fans around the world. As of 2004, sportswriters, broadcasters, sports executives, athletes, ESPN personalities, and other athletic experts have also been invited to vote from among those nominees determined each year by the ESPY Select Nominating Committee. Before 2004, sports journalists and sports experts at ESPN had determined the nominees for each year, but since 2005, fan voting has determined all factors from nominees to winners.