11 January 2009

Goofy About Sports

With so many people taking part in the Marathon Weekend, it seems to be the perfect time for a Back Issue about Sport Goofy, Disney’s place in sports, and some of their past involvement in youth sports. Margery R. Lee wrote about just those topics in Goofy About Sports, in the Summer 1984 issue of Disney News.

He’s not exactly what you’d picture as a superstar in athletics. In any event, sports or otherwise, he’s more than likely to trip over his own big feet. But what the heck… it’s not whether you win or lose, right? According to Sport Goofy, it’s the proper attitude that really matters… how you play it – in life, and in sports.

Which is probably why this famous Disney cartoon star was chosen as the official mascot for the Walt Disney Productions’ International Sports Program. When Walt Disney Productions was selected as the first official national corporate sponsor of high school sports by the National Federation of State High School Associations, it seemed only natural that lovable Sport Goofy should also be adopted as the national mascot for high school sports.

Sport Goofy’s motto is “Support Sportsmanship.” And that’s what he does – with much enthusiasm. He’s the participant you most admire – the one who tries the hardest and enjoys it the most, while at the same time, always representing the epitome of good sportsmanship. All of these favorable attributes make Sport Goofy a very popular guy and a source of inspiration for young athletes, both nationally and abroad.

The Sport Goofy program had its roots in Europe and has spread rapidly throughout the sports world with Sport Goofy appearing in person at Wimbledon, the Little League World Series, the Indy 500, on the Goodyear Blimp and on NCAA network television broadcasts. His popularity was prove internationally when France selected him as their mascot for the 1980 Olympics and he received the official endorsement of the German Sports Association.

In 1983, Walt Disney Productions and the United States Tennis Association jointly developed the “USTA/Sport Goofy National Junior Tennis Championship” for players 14/under and 12/under. The televised competition featured 128 players competing in singles and doubles matches at the Coto de Caza tennis stadium in California. This year the tournament will be held at the Disneyland Hotel/Tennisland facility in Anaheim, California on August 21 – 26, 1984. The event is being staged by Walt Disney Productions and its promotional partners Adidas, Coca Cola, Atari, Eastern Airlines and Penn. Colorful Disney entertainment and pageantry will highlight the opening and closing ceremonies, and there will be themed events throughout the festivities. Tickets will be available at Tennisland.

The USTA/Sport Goofy National Junior Championship is part of the worldwide Sport Goofy Junior Tennis Championship Series. The series will feature 19 national tournaments, 3 continental championships and the International Tennis Federation/Sport Goofy World Junior Tennis Championship at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, September 19 – 23. The finalists at the National Championships will receive an automatic invitation to the World Championship in Florida.

Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria and Brazil will be the sites of Sport Goofy tennis events in July… Italy and England in September; examples of many of the world-wide locations for the National Tournament Series. In December, a two-hour television “Sportainment” Special will highlight the ITF Junior World Tennis Championship at Walt Disney World. You’re likely to see that Goofy character almost anywhere in the world – if not in special events, on animated specials on television, educational programs, merchandise items and in publications, promoting a wonderfully new and healthy attitude towards junior sports in America. Sport Goofy stands for energy plus, and the fun, laughter and spirit of good sportsmanship.

Pretty good for an old duffer who made his film debut way back in 1932, don’t you think?

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