By Jeff Rosen
APSE First Vice President
Wright Thompson of ESPN won first place for Feature Writing in the Associated Press Sports Editors 2016 contest’s Over-175,000 circulation category.
Thompson won for The Mastermind, a September profile of Chicago Cubs general manager Theo Epstein. The piece garnered four of a possible six first-place votes from the judges.
Thompson will be presented a first-place plaque at the 2017 APSE banquet in June. The banquet and awards dinner concludes the APSE Summer Conference in New Orleans, a city Thompson spotlighted in a 2015 piece for ESPN the Magazine.
Placing second in the Feature Writing category was Dan Barry of the New York Times. Colleague John Branch of the Times was third.
Sports editors submitted a total of 90 entries in the Feature Writing category this year. The contest is open to APSE members. Click here to join.
Contest chair Jeff Rosen and fellow APSE officers Tommy Deas, John Bednarowski and Robert Gagliardi numbered each entry, assuring they had been stripped of headlines, graphics, bylines and any other element that would identify the writer or news organization.
In February, preliminary judges at the APSE Winter Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and off-site around the country selected a top 10 in this category, with each judge ranking the entries in order from 1 to 10 separately on a secret ballot. Entries were given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for second and so on down to one point for a 10th-place vote. The final 10 were then given to a second judging group, which ranked the entries 1-10 in the same fashion. The winner and final rankings were determined by tallying the two sets of ballots.
The winners in each category will receive a plaque at the 2017 APSE Summer Conference at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans June 26-29. The second- through 10th-place entrants will receive frameable certificates. (Click here to register for the conference.)
In the Feature Writing category, entries were judged on human interest, reader interest, quality of writing and thoroughness of reporting.
Here is the top 10, with links to writers’ Twitter pages (where applicable), APSE member websites and winning entries.
1- Wright Thompson, ESPN, 56 points, four first-place votes
2- Dan Barry, New York Times, 50 points, two first-place votes
3- John Branch, New York Times, 44 points
4- Lonnae O’Neal, The Undefeated, 38 points
5- TIE Kent Babb, Washington Post, 29 points
5- TIE Ryan Kartje, Southern California News Group, 29 points
7- Lars Anderson, Bleacher Report, 22 points
8- Mina Kimes, ESPN, 20 points
9- TIE Dave Sheinin, Washington Post, 19 points