Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting

Angell, Jackson 2021 Jenkins Medal winners

Roger Angell and Mitchell S. Jackson have been named 2021 award winners by the Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting jury.

Angell receives the Lifetime Achievement award while Jackson is recognized for the best sportswriting of the year (2020). The winners will be celebrated in a virtual event in October. They will be included in a live Jenkins Medal dinner and award ceremony (along with 2020 winners Rick Telander and Elizabeth Merrill) when in-person events resume post-coronavirus.

This is the fifth year these national awards have been named. They were created in honor of Jenkins, the legendary Texas sportswriter, to celebrate the craft and culture of sportswriting he personified through his storied career.

Angell is a senior editor and a staff writer at The New Yorker, to which he has contributed since 1944. Since 1962, he has written more than a hundred Sporting Scene pieces for the magazine, mostly on baseball but also on tennis, hockey, football, rowing, and horse racing. His baseball books include “The Summer Game,” “Five Seasons,” “Late Innings,” “Season Ticket,” “Once More Around the Park,” “A Pitcher’s Story,” and “Game Time.” His writing has appeared in many anthologies, including “The Best American Sports Writing,” “The Best American Short Stories,” “The Best American Essays,” and “The Best American Magazine Writing.” His work has also been collected in nine of his own books, among them “The Stone Arbor and Other Stories,” “A Day in the Life of Roger Angell,” “Let Me Finish,” and “This Old Man: All in Pieces.” “Nothing but You: Love Stories from The New Yorker” is an anthology of fiction selected by him.

Angell has won a number of awards for his writing, including the George Polk Award for Commentary, the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, and the Michael Braude Award for Light Verse, presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2011 he was the inaugural winner of the PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing. In 2014, Angell received the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, the highest honor given to writers by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Mitchell S. Jackson receives the 2021 Jenkins Medal for Best Sportswriting award, a citation for Twelve Minutes and a Life: Ahmaud Arbery went out for a jog and was gunned down in the street. How running fails Black America, published by Runner’s World. In the piece, Jackson recounts the circumstances that led to Arbery’s murder and its stinging cultural legacy as Arbery, a 25-year old Black man, was pursued by armed white men and fatally shot while jogging in Glynn County, Georgia. Jackson’s piece also won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing and the 2021 National Magazine Award in Feature Writing.

Jackson is a freelance writer whose additional honors include fellowships and awards from John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Creative Capital, the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center, the Lannan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, PEN America, TED, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Center for Fiction. A formerly incarcerated person, Jackson is also a social justice advocate who, as part of his outreach, visits prisons and youth facilities in the United States and abroad.

From CSCM Director Dr. Michael Butterworth:

“Roger Angell is among the giants in the history of American fiction and sportswriting, and his contributions to The New Yorker have left an indelible mark on our understanding of the national pastime. His ability to capture the details and nuances of baseball have been on display for over 60 years, in essays such as ‘The Web of the Game,’ about the legendary pitchers’ duel between Ron Darling and Frank Viola in 1981, and books The Summer Game, Five Seasons, and Season Ticket. His affection for the game, its characters, and its stories has earned him the esteem of fans and fellow writers alike. As Tom Verducci wrote in 2014, Roger Angell truly is the ‘curator of our baseball souls.’”

“In a year defined by a national reckoning with racial violence and discrimination, Mitchell Jackson’s ‘Twelve Minutes and a Life’ stands out for its attentive, pained, and personal account of the death of Ahmaud Arbery. Jackson artfully shifts the narrative’s chronology to give readers both a window into Arbery’s life and his effect on people and a sense of dread as it approaches its inevitable, tragic end. Equal parts eulogy, cultural history, and plea to humanize the lives of Black Americans, the story is a moving and sobering call for justice.”

Previous winners of the Jenkins Medals were Frank Deford, Dave Kindred, Gary Smith and Rick Telander in the Lifetime Achievement category. Wright Thompson, Chris Ballard, Sarah Spain, Dave Sheinin and Elizabeth Merrill are previous Jenkins Medal winners in Best Sportswriting.

The Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting is awarded by a jury of renowned sportswriters and editors from across the country, including co-chairs Sally Jenkins and Michael MacCambridge. Jury members for lifetime achievement in sportswriting include Chuck Culpepper, Gerald Early, Vahe Gregorian, Will Leitch, Joe Posnanski, Steve Rushin, Wright Thompson and Seth Wickersham. For best sportswriting, jury members include Kirk Bohls, Bryan Curtis, Melanie Hauser, Kathleen McElroy, Kevin Robbins, John A. Walsh, Gene Wojciechowski, Grant Wahl and Alexander Wolff.

During his lifetime, Dan Jenkins wrote 24 books; 12 nonfiction and 12 novels. After beginning his career at the Fort Worth Press and the Dallas Times Herald, Jenkins gained national prominence during his nearly quarter-century spent as the most prolific writer in the history of Sports Illustrated, where he became the nation’s best-known writer on college football and golf, and authored “Semi-Tough,” the first in a series of best-selling novels. Jenkins has received the Red Smith Award from the Associated Press Sports Editors Association, the Ring Lardner Award from the Union League of Chicago, the PEN/ESPN Award for literary sports writing and the lifetime achievement award in sports journalism from the PGA of America.

The Center for Sports Communication & Media (CSCM) in the Moody College of Communication sponsors the Jenkins Medal. The center brings together interests in the instruction, practice and scholarship of sports journalism, broadcasting, media production and human communication. CSCM sponsors programming such as the McGarr Symposium on Sports and Society, which includes the annual Frank Deford Lecture on Sports Journalism. In addition to these events, the Center seeks to connect students to peers, faculty and industry exerts by developing professional networks and hosting educational programs on campus.

2021 Jenkins Medal/Best Sportswriting finalists named

CSCM is announcing its 12 nominees for Best Sportswriting of the Year for the fifth iteration of the Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting. The awards are presented annually in honor of the legendary Texas sportswriter and best-selling author, who defined the sportswriter’s craft for a generation.

The nominees for the 2021 Best Sportswriting category are:

The Jenkins Medal is awarded in two categories:

  • The Dan Jenkins Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Sportswriting Award
  • The Dan Jenkins Medal for Best Sportswriting Award

The Best Sportswriting award cites accomplishment for a single piece published in the previous calendar year (2020). Both awards accompany a cash prize.

"In a year defined by challenges, sports remained an important daily touchstone,” said Dr. Michael Butterworth, director of the Center for Sports Communication & Media. “This year's nominees reveal how sports reflected and defined the most crucial issues of 2020, with some assessing their absence and presence during the pandemic, calls for social justice, and political divisions in an election year. Other nominees remind us that sports need not be understood only in the context of crisis, as they offer unique windows into human relationships and universal themes of hope and opportunity. Together, these 12 outstanding finalists eloquently express the complexity of sports and the role they can play in our lives."

Final voting for Best Sportswriting award will be conducted by a jury of sportswriters that include co-chairs Sally Jenkins and Michael MacCambridge and committee members Kevin Blackistone, Kirk Bohls, Bryan Curtis, Melanie Hauser, Kathleen McElroy, Kevin Robbins, John A. Walsh, Gene Wojciechowski, Grant Wahl and Alexander Wolff.

The voting for lifetime achievement in sportswriting will be conducted by the co-chairs Jenkins and MacCambridge with a committee that includes Chuck Culpepper, Gerald Early, Vahe Gregorian, Will Leitch, Joe Posnanski, Steve Rushin, Wright Thompson and Seth Wickersham. Nominees for the lifetime achievement award are not made public.

This year’s winners will be announced in September. In lieu of the traditional awards banquet, the Center will host a live virtual event, celebrating the winners and the craft of sportswriting, which Jenkins personified. An in-person awards dinner is expected to resume in the fall of 2022.

By Dan Jenkins

A documentary commissioned to celebrate the creation of the Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting

By Dan Jenkins was commissioned by the Center for Sports Communication and Meda and debuted at the 2017 Jenkins Medal awards dinner in Dallas. The film was shot, edited and directed by Kelly Lipscomb and Matt Tisdale and co-produced by Michael MacCambridge.

telander and merrill

Telander, Merrill recognized in 2020

Rick Telander and Elizabeth Merrill have been named 2020 award winners by the Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting jury.
Telander receives the Lifetime Achievement award while Merrill is recognized for the best sportswriting of the year (2019). The winners will be celebrated in a video compilation under production. They will participate in the 2021 Jenkins Medal dinner and award ceremony when in-person events resume post-coronavirus.
This is the fourth year these national awards have been presented. They are named in honor of Jenkins, the legendary Texas sportswriter, to celebrate the craft and culture of sportswriting he personified through his storied career.

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Smith, Spain, Sheinin (and Nicklaus!!!) celebrated for 2019

Gary Smith, Sarah Spain and Dave Sheinin have been named 2019 award winners by the Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting jury.
Smith receives the Lifetime Achievement award, while Spain and Sheinin are recognized for the best sportswriting of the previous year. The winners will be celebrated and receive their medals at a banquet at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth on Oct. 25, hosted by The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Sports Communication & Media. This year’s ceremony honored the legacy of Dan Jenkins, who passed away in March 2019 at age 90, featuring a conversation with legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, who received the inaugural Jenkins Medal Sports Legend award.

Chris Ballard and Dave Kindred

Kindred, Ballard recognized with 2019 Medals

Dave Kindred and Chris Ballard were among dozens of distinguished sports journalists, faculty members and university officials who attended the second annual awards banquet hosted by the Center for Sports Communication & Media at UT-Austin's DKR Texas Memorial Stadium. NBC Sports broadcaster Mary Carillo emceed the event, attended by Jenkins and his family, including his daughter, Sally Jenkins, a columnist at The Washington Post.
Kindred, a beloved figure in the sportswriting community, was recognized with the Jenkins Medal for Career Achievement in sportswriting, for an body of work, featuring stints at Atlanta Journal Constitution, The National Sports Daily, Sporting News, The Washington Post and Golf Digest. Ballard, a writer for Sports Illustrated, was presented with the Jenkins Medal for Best Sportswriting of 2017 for his profile, “You Can't Give In,” a moving profile of NBA coach Monty Williams, enduring tremendous personal loss.

Dan Jenkins, Wright Thompson and John Walsh

Deford, Thompson honored at innaugural dinner

Frank Deford and Wright Thompson were named winners of the first-annual Dan Jenkins Medals for Excellence in Sportswriting during a ceremony in Dallas on Oct. 13, hosted by The University of Texas at Austin Center for Sports Communication & Media. The national awards, named after the legendary Texas sportswriter Dan Jenkins, were presented before a sellout crowd of 150 at the Pecan Room in Dallas.

Deford, a sportswriting icon, was recognized posthumously with the Jenkins Medal for Career Achievement in sportswriting, for an unsurpassed career that defined cultural engagement with and observation of American and international sports. Thompson, a writer for ESPN The Magazine, was presented with the Jenkins Medal for Best Sportswriting of 2016 for his profile, “The Secret History of Tiger Woods.”

Dan Jenkins

Dan Jenkins, young and old

Dan Jenkins was an award-winning sportswriter and best-selling novelist whose career spanned more than six decades. The Fort Worth native was born on December 2, 1938 and died on March 7, 2019.
Jenkins was the author of 24 books—12 novels and 12 works of non-fiction. After 15 years of writing for newspapers in Fort Worth and Dallas, Jenkins became nationally known for his stories in Sports Illustrated for more than a quarter of a century, and afterward for his five-year stint of writing a sports column for Playboy, and since then for his columns, features, and tweets in Golf Digest. Three of his best-selling novels—Semi-Tough, Dead Solid Perfect, and Baja Oklahoma—have been made into movies. He is one of only three sportswriters to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. He has also been inducted into the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, the  Texas Golf Hall of Fame, and the TCU Lettermens Hall of Fame. For a lifetime of excellence in his profession, Jenkins has received the Red Smith Award from the Associated Press Sports Editors Association, the Ring Lardner Award from the Union League of Chicago, the PEN/ESPN Award for literary sports writing, the lifetime achievement award in sports journalism from the PGA of America, the William D. Richardson Award for outstanding contributions to the game from the Golf Writers Association of America, the Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, the Lincoln A. Werden Memorial Award from the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association for a lifetime of contributions to golf journalism, and the Amateur Football Award from the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. But Jenkins said he was proudest of the fact that he managed to stay employed by one publication or another throughout his long career.