One day after announcing that she will executive produce an ESPN “30 for 30” film, Maria Shriver revealed why she’s partnering with the sports documentary series.
Speaking at the 5th annual espnW: Women + Sports Summit on Friday, the journalist and philanthropist will tell the story of her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of the Special Olympics. Los Angeles will host the Special Olympics next July, airing on ESPN.
“The ’30 for 30’ idea came from the realization that my boys don’t watch anything but ESPN,” Shriver said Friday at the conference in Dana Point, Calif. “When I was watching (ESPN film) ‘The Book of Manning,’ I released there should be a book of Eunice.
“SportsCenter” anchor Kevin Negandhi joined Shriver for a panel titled “Architects of Change.” Shriver described her mother as “a pioneer and a competitor in a family of competitors. She was tougher than any man. She was determined that this would grow into a movement to change the world and I thought it was worth a ’30 for 30.'”
Inspired by her sister who had learning disabilities, JFK and Robert Kennedy’s sister, Eunice, began a camp in her backyard.
Shriver said, “She was slightly out of her mind in many ways but she was 50 years ahead of her time. She brought in prisoners to volunteer as they could get day passes. Our home was filled with people with disabilities, volunteers and prisoners — it was crazy!”
The mother of four admitted that her oldest son with Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t even know what network she works on. “Patrick told me, ‘Someone said you were really good on ‘Good Morning America’ — I told him I don’t work for ‘GMA'; I am on NBC!”
But “people assemble and commune around sports events,” she said, and “never before has sports had more impact than now,” whether in conversations about domestic violence and sexual equality.
This year’s espnW conference theme is “Making an Impact.” Speakers included Little League baseball sensation Mo’Ne Davis, civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, Paralympic athlete and “Dancing with the Stars” alum Amy Purdy and Equinox Fitness president Sarah Robb O’Hagan, along with ESPN hosts Sage Steele, Jeremy Schaap, Darren Rovell and Jemele Hill.
Davis, 13, said, “I just wanted to go and play baseball but it all became about signing autographs. I couldn’t go out without getting mobbed. I just wanted to stay inside and play ping pong.”
ESPN president John Skipper said, “This was the best year we’ve had at espnW. We’ve grown 8 million unique, the ‘Nine for IX’ shorts telling women sports stories, and being the leading producer of women sports. Last week we announced the NBA deal and should have mentioned the WNBA deal. We are committed to make sure that more girls play.”
The conference concluded Friday at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, Calif. Located in southern Orange County south of Laguna Nigel and Laguna Beach, the pristine city also offered guests the opportunity to enjoy the local sandy beaches, activities including whale-watching and paddle-boarding, plus dining at AAA five-diamond resorts.