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Spillane honoured with ASC’s Lifetime Achievement Award

2017 ASC Media Awards winners
Winners of the 2017 ASC Media Awards

01 Feb 2018

Winners revealed in 15 categories at annual ASC Media Awards

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) has presented broadcaster Debbie Spillane AM with its Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in sports journalism at the 16th annual ASC Media Awards in Sydney tonight (Thursday, 1 February 2018).

Almost 200 guests attended the ASC Media Awards, with Spillane’s honour the last of 15 awards presented at the ceremony (a complete list of winners is below).

Spillane was a pioneer for women in Australian sports media, the first female broadcaster hired by ABC Sport in 1984. Spillane said she was delighted by the increasing numbers and profiles of women in Australian sports media and urged the industry to continue its progress.

“Sports media in the 1980s was “no-woman’s land” and I guess this award is recognition for coming through that era and surviving more than 30 years in the industry,” Spillane said. “I'm delighted and impressed that female sports reporters and broadcasters are increasing in number and profile, but I know they still face obstacles. I’d like to think this award is encouragement for the newer generation of women in the sports media, so thank you to the Australian Sports Commission for showing them that dealing with those extra challenges is valued.

Kelli Underwood and Debbie Spillane
Best coverage of sport by an individual – broadcast media winner Kelli Underwood, left, and ASC Media Awards lifetime achievement award recipient Debbie Spillane.

“In some ways I'm sorry that my career has ended just as a new wave of support is recognising the importance of women to sport.”

Spillane accepted the award in front of her father Ken, who inspired her love of sport.

“Dad started taking me to rugby league games when I was a toddler and I attended every grand final until I was 16. When I got my rugby league coaching certificate my grandfather, a former captain of Western Suburbs first grade team, scoffed and said I couldn't possibly be a qualified coach if I'd never played. Dad replied “Well, there are a lot of male obstetricians out there telling women how to have babies.

“To be recognised with the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award puts me on a list alongside the likes of Bruce McAvaney, Roy Masters, Les Murray, Caroline Wilson and Ken Sutcliffe. It’s a bit hard to get my head around to be honest, they each rose to heights that I don't think I reached.”

ASC Chair John Wylie AM commended Spillane. “There have been few like Debbie Spillane in the Australian sports media industry. But because of her distinguished career, we know there will be far more female leaders that will continue to influence and shape the future of Australian sport. The media plays an important role in connecting Australians with sport, our national pastime, and we congratulate all finalists and winners of this year’s ASC Media Awards.”

ASC Media Awards winners

Lifetime Achievement Award
Debbie Spillane

Best reporting of an issue in sport
Louise Milligan, Lisa McGregor, Trish Drum, ‘After the Game’, Four Corners, ABC
Highly Commended: Mary Gearin, Sarah Curnow, ‘Abuse in Tennis’, 7.30, ABC

Best coverage of sport by an individual – print media
Konrad Marshall, Good Weekend, Fairfax Media

Best coverage of sport by an individual – broadcast media
Kelli Underwood, Fox Sports and ABC

Best coverage of sport by an individual – digital media
Nathan Ryan, ‘Beyond the Game: Inside the NRL World’, Fox Sports

Best profiling of an athlete, team or coach – broadcast media
Adrian Brown, ‘Outsiders’, Whooshka Media

Best profiling of an athlete, team or coach – print media
Grantlee Kieza, ‘Prized Fighter - Jeff Horn’, The Courier-Mail

Best coverage of a sporting event by a media organisation
Fox Sports, ‘Horn v Pacquiao – World Title’

Best contribution to sport by an organisation through digital media
Seven Network, ‘Summer of 7Tennis 2017’

Best sports photography
Michael Dodge, ‘Cyril Magic’, Getty Images

Best analysis of the business of sport
Jack Kerr, ‘Sports Betting Industry Analysis’, Freelance

Best coverage of women in sport
Fox Footy, ‘AFL Women’s coverage’, Fox Sports
Highly Commended: Swoop, News Corp

Best sports journalism from rural, regional or suburban media
Grant Edwards, ‘Multisport Mecca’, Sunshine Coast Daily

Best coverage of sport for people with a disability
Jim Callinan, ‘Oz Day 10k Wheelchair Road Race’, Sky News
Highly Commended: Kristopher Flanders, ‘No Holding Back’, NITV

Best depiction of the value of sport to Australians in a community setting
Allyson Horn, ‘Afghan AFL’, ABC

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