2021 marks ESPN’s 15th annual V Week, which actually runs longer than a week; this year’s event started Tuesday and will run through the Jimmy V Women’s Basketball Classics on Dec. 12. ESPN will again be using its platforms to bolster awareness of and donations to the V Foundation for Cancer Research, which they’ve helped raise over $142 million since the foundation’s 1993 inception. Here are a few things to watch for, from a release:, including a tribute to Vitale (a passionate V Foundation ambassador himself, who recently returned to the ESPN airwaves following a lymphoma diagnosis in October):
New to V Week this year is the development of #VStrongBaby to show support for ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, who returned to call his first game of the men’s college basketball season last Tuesday after being diagnosed with lymphoma in October. Vitale has been documenting his inspirational journey on his social media platforms, and the hashtag is accompanied by a customized heart emoji in honor of the legendary commentator, which ESPN will feature throughout V Week.
…Jim Valvano’s ESPYS Speech Roadblock — Once a year, nearly all of ESPN’s platforms pause regularly scheduled programming and run the annual 15 minute “roadblock” in support of the V Foundation. This year’s “roadblock” will begin on Wednesday, December 1 at 7 p.m. ET and highlight the critical need for cancer research support, featuring a tribute to Vitale as he continues to be an inspiration in his battle against cancer, and Valvano’s “Don’t Give Up” ESPYS speech.
…Fans of ESPN and StockX, the global platform for consuming and trading current culture products – including sneakers, electronics, apparel, accessories and collectibles — have a chance to win celebrity sneakers and memorabilia during V Week through StockX’s Campaign for a Cause benefiting the V Foundation. Sample of sneakers and items available for fans include:
Drake x NOCTA x TaylorMade: P·790 Irons (Drake Friends & Family Set)
Kevin Durant: Kevin Durant signed Nike KD14 (size 10M)
Mike Krzyzewski: Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski signed Nike LeBron XVIII Duke PE (size 13M)
Nyjah Huston: Huston signed & worn Nike SB Nyjah Free 2 Summit White Icy Sole (size 8.5M)
Naomi Osaka: Osaka signed NikeCourt Air Zoom GP Turbo Naomi Osaka (size 9M)
Other notable companies and people who have donated to the cause include Nigel Sylvester, Malbon Golf, and one of ESPN’s Top Ten Hi shoes, among others.
The campaign will launch November 30 at 12 p.m. ET and run until December 2 at 11:59 a.m. ET. Each $10 entry gives participants a chance to win the selected product (with winners selected randomly) with proceeds donated to the V Foundation in support of cancer research. Head to www.stockx.com/lp/vfoundation to enter.
Beyond that, ESPN will again be promoting the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund, which they and the V Foundation established in 2015 in memory of famed sportscaster Scott. That fund “encourages cutting-edge research for African Americans, Hispanics and other minority populations suffering from cancer,” and it’s already had a notable impact; in 2015 alone, it awarded more than $2 million in grants. There’s a good quote from ESPN vice president Kevin Martinez in the main release here about why that’s important:
“The ongoing pandemic has continued to disrupt the critical need to fundraise for cancer research and address the health disparities impacting people of color in their fight against cancer,” said Kevin Martinez, vice president of ESPN Corporate Citizenship. “Raising funds for cancer research is a long-standing tradition at ESPN, and we are committed to continuing our work to close the gap in cancer disparities experienced by patients of minority populations and improve their outcomes.”
Efforts to boost that fund include a continuation of last year’s “Give and Go” collaboration with the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity (Scott was an Alpha Phi Alpha brother) and a dedicated “Fight Like Hell” UFC Fight Night on ESPN and ESPN+ on Dec. 4 (which will include a $100,000 contribution to the fund from the UFC).
In addition to that UFC Fight Night, V Week will also feature special men’s and women’s college basketball doubleheader events, the Jimmy V Men’s and Women’s Basketball Classics. The men’s event will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 7, with Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas, and Holly Rowe calling No. 13 Tennessee vs. Texas Tech at 7 p.m. ET and then Syracuse vs. No. 6 Villanova at 10 p.m. ET. The women’s event will take place on Sunday, Dec. 12, with Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli calling No. 16 Kentucky at No. 10 Louisville at 1 p.m. ET and Courtney Lyle, Carolyn Peck and Rowe calling No. 8 Maryland at No. 1 South Carolina at 3 p.m. ET. All games from both of those events will be broadcast on the main ESPN network.