By Gary Potosky

APSE First Vice President

Welcome to the 2020 APSE Contest!

Yes, it’s 2021, but the great work of sports journalists throughout the historic year of 2020 is our sole and only focus in this endeavor. It’s an exciting time for editors to see their great work acknowledged, rewarded, and if you’re a judge who pays attention, “borrowing” some of the great ideas that inevitably come from this exhausting and wonderful process.

We have changes in this year’s contest, each having the fundamental purpose of best representing the work we do and the values our sports journalism espouses every day of the year. If you ask yourself what your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals are for your sports journalism, the changes in this year’s contest should help the contest as a whole reflect those aspirations.

One of the many great aspects of entering and judging in the APSE Contest is that we as national officers, and myself specifically as chairman of this year’s contest, are accessible easily and in many ways. 

We expect some confusion along the way — the rules are nearly 7,000 words! It’s bound to happen. But all questions have answers, and you can rest assured that your best work can and will be represented in this year’s contest to compete against the nation’s best. All you have to do is submit your Entry Keys on time, hopefully help us with judging a few categories (if you can), and let the chips fall where they may. 

Here are some questions and answers on this year’s changes. Good luck!

Where can I find the rules for the 2020 contest?

What are the major rules changes?

There are four major changes.

  • The Digital Contest is now contested as primarily a series of stories chosen by the editor, much the same as the Beat Writing category, for example. There’s also a small portion of the scoring for live site judging. IMPORTANT → The Digital Contest has its own Entry Key, which can be found in your Google folder. Clear instructions on how to enter each story category in the Digital Contest can be found on the Rules website page, linked above.
  • Feature Writing has been renamed Long Feature Writing for stories over an assigned word length (Categories A and B have different word limits than Categories C and D), and we have added a category named Short Feature Writing. The assigned word lengths are primarily for the Short Feature Writing category, as any entry that goes over the word limit in this category will be disqualified. Stories shorter than the assigned word length entered in Long Feature Writing will be eligible for that category.
  • The Sections Contest will be entirely by PDFs. The Sections Contest has its own Entry Key as well. The deadline is later than the Writing and Digital contests, as is the judging window. APSE will provide written and video instructions on how to convert PDFs of a section into one PDF for each section submitted, and how to submit the section PDF links on the Entry Key. Expect those instructions in January.

Why the rules changes?

The contest, like our newsrooms, must adapt to the changing media landscape. What we do every day as sports editors — what we prioritize — should be reflected as best as possible in the contest. Specifically for these changes:

  • The new Digital Contest now reflects the best and most representative work of our websites, judging sites by what we strive to do and how well we achieve our goals. In past years, it’s been more vague and random both when sites were judged, and what judges were expected to see.
  • The Short Feature Writing category will reward the kind of story all newsrooms publish most often, the kind of story that because of its word limitations had very little chance to compete in the former Feature Writing category of long and deeply reported pieces.
  • Because we are remote, physical sections are simply not something we can do this year. And since most E Editions do not go back to Jan. 1, 2020, that’s simply not an option this year either. So rather than spike the section contests for a year, or experiment with E Editions, we will use the technology we all have and make the best of it.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here