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Awards show is a labor of love

On Sports

When the Portland Tribune launched in 2001, one of the first things the people in our sports department wanted to do was find a way to restart the old Hayward Banquet.

The banquet, which honored the best in Oregon sports for nearly 50 years, began in 1948 with amateur sports enthusiast Nick Sckavone, sportswriter George Pasero, and sportscasters Doug LaMear and Johnny Carpenter. They created a group called the Oregon Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, which dissolved in the mid-1980s.

The Oregonian took over the banquet in 1986 but then mysteriously dumped it in 1996. Why?

'They stopped because it was beginning to lose money for them,' says Bill Mulflur, former executive sports editor at the Oregon Journal and the banquet chairman for many years.

But with Tribune sports editor Steve Brandon and sportswriter Kerry Eggers doing most of the legwork, the first Oregon Sports Awards became a reality Feb. 24, 2002. The Hayward Award - and all the other honors that were annually presented to pro, high school and college athletes - were alive again, after a five-year absence.

Instead of a banquet, which has become a bit antiquated in today's world, we decided on an Academy Awards-type of show and held it, right from that first year, in the best venue in the area for such things - the Tiger Woods Center on the Nike World Campus. The preshow and after-show receptions allow for plenty of interaction between guests and participants.

'The banquet format was tough,' Mulflur says. 'The food was always our biggest expense. The format now is great because you get to mix and meet people before and after the show.'

There have been several co-sponsors since the Tribune took over, but a couple of partners deserve special mention. SportsOne Inc., the Portland sports marketing and promotion company that has become a national player (it's working on the Olympic Trials right now), still makes the whole thing come together with its effort and expertise.

Jim Etzel, the founder of SportsOne, has gone the extra mile every year on a project he loves to the point of totally committing his company to an event that is never going to make him any real money.

And Nike, originally with Nelson Farris and now Charlie Denson, has done everything it can to make this, hands down, the biggest sports event in Oregon every year that doesn't feature an athletic contest. There are so many things Nike can do in sports that no other company can accomplish.

The first couple of years, we were scrambling to put it all together. For presenters and hosts, we relied mostly on Eggers' Rolodex and ability to talk people into showing up for the show without being paid.

But in spite of what you hear about athletes, a whole lot of them are willing to donate their time to events they perceive to be good for sports and good for athletes, young and old.

Charles Barkley did that one year - flying to Portland to guest-host alongside Bill Schonely, and he was an absolute delight. Clyde Drexler performed as host, too. So did Joey Harrington and Steve Lyons. And the likes of Richie Sexson, Scott Brosius, Mary Slaney, Terry Baker and Jerome Kersey have been among the numerous award presenters.

This year may feature the best lineup yet. Ahmad Rashad, who was sensational last year as the master of ceremonies, is back again in that role. Greg Oden, Derek Anderson, Jerry Glanville, Steven Jackson, Dick Fosbury, Harry Glickman and U.S. marathoner Dathan Ritzenhein are on board as presenters.

Jacoby Ellsbury will be there, and you never know when you'll look around and see a big star sitting near you in the audience.

It's a show - and a project - we're very proud to present.

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When, where: Sunday at the Tiger Woods Center on the Nike World Campus in Beaverton. Reception at 5 p.m., show from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

TV, radio: Live at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet and 1080 AM the Fan. Pre-show coverage at 5:30 p.m. on 1080 AM the Fan.

Host: Ahmad Rashad, Emmy-award winning broadcaster, University of Oregon/NFL star and College Football Hall of Fame member

Ambassador: Bill Schonely, founding broadcaster/ambassador, Portland Trail Blazers

Celebrity presenters: Greg Oden, Derek Anderson, Jerry Glanville, Dick Fosbury, Steven Jackson, Harry Glickman and Dathan Ritzenhein

Awards: 14 categories - Johnny Carpenter prep athletes of the year, male and female; Harry Glickman pofessional athletes of the year, male and female; Bill Hayward amateur athletes of the year, male and female; Slats Gill sportsperson of the year; George Pasero team of the year; Ad Rutschman small-college athletes of the year, male and female; Nike-Steve Prefontaine award; Les Schwab Friend of Sports award; Lou Burge Special Olympics athlete of the year; merit awards. … All of the awards, except the merits, are based on performance in 2007. … A statewide panel of media and sports experts votes on the awards.

Tickets: $50, with complimentary hors d'oeuvres and beverages before the show, and coffee and desserts afterward. Call 503-721-7477, ext. 17.