Remarks at a Reception Sponsored by the Women's Sports Foundation in New York, New York

September 26, 1983

The President. I'm delighted to have this opportunity to be here with you today. I have just come from addressing the United Nations, and I have to tell you, with all due respect to them, I feel more at home here, because -- [laughter] -- --

In addition to athletics in school, and when I was in school I started my career as a radio sports announcer, and thought that my life was going to go on connected with sports. Now here I am, and maybe I'm going to get back to it.

Ms. de Varona. We hope so. We welcome you.

The President. Well, I'd be pleased to do it.

You know, the Women's Sports Foundation's annual awards program and Hall of Fame is providing, as you well know, some overdue and well deserved recognition to some very fine athletes. So, before I go any further, let my just say to Donna -- and I was going to say de Varona -- [different pronunciation:] -- but it's de Varona -- --

Ms. de Varona. Very good.

The President. Micki King Hogue, Tenley Albright, Andrea Mead Lawrence, Helen Stephens, Martina Navratilova, Mary Decker, Flo Hyman, Arie Selinger -- and I'm afraid that I met more awardees than I had names for down here, so to all of them also I think all can be rightfully proud of their accomplishments.

There was a time -- and it wasn't long ago -- that people thought that a woman's place in sports was in the grandstand. Old thought patterns are hard to break, and I'd like to congratulate all of you in the Women's Sports Foundation for what you're doing to expand opportunities for participation for half of America's population. Your efforts to open up sporting events and change attitudes toward female sports participation, competition, and fitness is doing a great service.

You should be especially proud of your work to encourage women and girls to get involved in physical fitness programs. You're having a great influence, and it was a result in health and happiness for people who otherwise might have lived less healthy lives.

We can all be grateful for the private sector support that you've been getting from corporations like Kimberly-Clark, Avon, and Milky Way, and I have a feeling that there are more of those present and helping than I was given names for. So, to all of them, you're reaching women and girls that are all over the country with a call for involvement, fitness, and health. This type of support from respected corporations is just the type of initiative that we're encouraging, and I applaud those companies for their good citizenship.

I'm pleased to learn that the United States Olympic Committee and Women's Sports Foundation have teamed up to ensure that there is a bright future for women in sports and fitness. I wish you success for your national conference in November, which will address the ways in which we can improve the status of girls' and women's sports in America. Sports and fitness opportunities are for everyone. And through activities like this one today, you can assure that every individual has an opportunity to participate, to compete, and to reach his or her potential.

So, good luck to you again and congratulations to your award recipients and thanks for letting me play a part in this effort. And let me just say, I can understand your suggestions to me, but I also know, and I just want to say to you in my own behalf, that there has been some misperception about what my attitude might be. And I want you to know that what it really is is probably one of the best kept secrets in Washington, and I've been doing my best to get the truth out.

And I can't leave without telling a little story that has to do with my particular trade today, though, but I think it kind of fits the occasion. I am a fan also of not particularly an athlete but a very wonderful woman, Margaret Thatcher of England. And when we had the summit conference in Williamsburg, Virginia, where it's so -- you know, the restored community, restored to exactly what it was at the time of the American Revolution, and the first night I knew our first get-together was going to be around the dinner table, so I was all set. When we sat down, I was going to say, ``Margaret, if one of your predecessors had been a little more clever, you'd be hosting this gathering.'' [Laughter] I'd underestimated her because we all got there, sat down, and I said, ``Margaret, if one of your predecessors had been a little more clever -- -- '' She said, ``I know, I would have been hosting this gathering.'' [Laughter]

Well, thank you for letting me spend a few minutes here. I've got to go back to the affairs of state now. But this has been a pleasure, and I assure you, you won't have anything to worry about from me.

Ms. de Varona. Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: The President spoke at 11:39 a.m. in the Empire Room at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. He was introduced by Donna de Varona, president of the Women's Sports Foundation, which sponsored the reception to honor five inductees into the foundation's Hall of Fame.