Fellow members of the BWAA, any writers’ organization exists for several purposes, but high on all such lists, and the Boxing Writers Association of America is no different, is the imperative to acknowledge and reward the best work done by its members in a particular calendar year. The following rules and categories should be familiar to most of you, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat the obvious.
The 2019 writing contest consists of six categories, all of which are numbered (no identifying names or bylines seen by the judges), and must have appeared in print or online from January 1 through December 31. An independent panel of judges, as always, has the task of selecting the winners, who receive their awards at the BWAA Awards Dinner, the date and site of which have yet to be announced; those placing entrants unable to attend the dinner will have their awards shipped to them.
The contest is open to all BWAA members, full and associate, but their annual dues of $40 should be current. Dues can be paid via PayPal (I have no idea how that works) or by check, made out to the Boxing Writers Association of America or BWAA, P.O. Box 1082, Drexel Hill, Pa. 19026. As most of you should know, participants are limited to one entry per category. It always is surprising to me that I sometimes receive three or four entries in the same category from someone who has not read the rules. If that happens, an attempt will be made to contact the writer to ascertain which of the submitted entries is his or her choice, but if time becomes a factor then one entry will – must – be chosen at random. So choose wisely now and avoid any such confusion.
The deadline for entries to be received is Jan. 25, and because there always is a possibility that the 2019 Awards Dinner will be earlier than in years past, all entrants are urged to make their submissions, either via email (preferred) or snail-mail, as promptly as possible. Email submissions can be sent to email@example.com, and regular-mail submissions to P.O. Box 1082, Drexel Hill, Pa. 19026.
All submissions should include, by attached sheet, the entrant’s name, the category, the date on which it appeared in print or online, and the media outlet for which it was written. If being sent by regular mail, please do not include pages on which material is printed on both sides. It slows the preparation process, and in any given year that process may have to be accelerated. Entrants who get their submissions in advance of the deadline get my fond appreciation, but history tells me that will not always be the case.
Information regarding membership, dues, etc., can be located by going to the BWAA web site, bwaa.org. If need be, contact BWAA president Joe Santoliquito at jsantoliquitoBWAA@yahoo.com. He’s even more swamped with BWAA stuff than I am, so exhaust all possibilities as to queries before making that call.
Category A, Event Coverage: This is restricted to stories done off fights, not feature stories done in advance of or written after the event. All such stories must have been published or posted within 36 hours of said event. That unfortunately precludes submissions for magazines, in which the writer might have weeks to gather additional material for his or her story.
Category B, Column: These ideally are opinion pieces in which the writer offers his or her stance on a particular boxing issue or person involved in boxing. There are many terrific feature stories in which the writer’s photo or likeness accompanies the text, but that in and of itself does not make it a column. Feature stories are feature stories. Take care to separate the apples from the oranges.
Category C, News Story: This category involves breaking news, and especially so if the entrant is the one breaking that news. Stories in reaction to a noted boxing figure’s death qualify, and often find favor with the judges.
Category D1, Feature Under 1,500 Words: Nobody is going to be counting words here, but if an entrant has two really good stories of, say, 3,000 words, please don’t try to slip one into the D1 category, or a story of 900 words into D2. There has to be some way to delineate and the contest chairman should not be tasked with making that determination. Use your own best judgment if you have authored a story that comes in at 1,490 words, and presumably can go either way.
Category D2, Feature Over 1,500 Words: See D1.
Category E, Investigative Reporting: There is always a bit of gray area as to whether certain stories belong in D2 or E. Let’s keep it simple. Category E always has the fewest entries, but is especially prestigious because it involves much digging and reporting to get at the heart of subjects that are, or should be, important to readers. Once I received an entry in the E category that consisted of four paragraphs. Amazing.
The BWAA writing and photo contests are integral to who and what we are. There are many outstanding writers/reporters in the BWAA’s ranks, and if you have material worthy of consideration, please make the effort to submit it. We are a fraternity, true, but we also are in competition with each other and especially ourselves to produce our best possible work. If that work merits special recognition, everyone within the BWAA fraternity benefits because the bar has been raised and it gives all of us standards to which we should aspire. Good luck to everyone, and have a happy holiday season and prosperous New Year.