Sports Writing Competition 2022

journalism — The ball’s in your court.

A rundown of that remarkable win from the underdogs? A feature piece on a nontraditional coach? An op-ed on the representation of women in sports media? This month, help us kick off our Sports Writing Competition with your own original piece of journalism. Sports writers have long been beloved for their distinctive style and voice. It’s time to find your own flair, dear writers! From surfing rules and etiquette to the ethical issues around performance enhancing drugs, the field of sports writing is yours to play on. 

Guiding Ideas
Regardless of your topic, make sure to:
  1. Focus your attention on one issue or event.
  2. Conduct background research so that you have a good contextual understanding of your topic. This might mean looking into the historical record of the team you’re writing about, or a coach’s history, or the incidence of doping 20 years ago versus now… you get the idea.
  3. Seek out the opinions of others and gather interesting quotes! If you’re writing about a sports event at your school, interview players, coaches, and fans. If you’re writing about a national or international event or issue, draw on newspaper and magazine articles.
  4. And finally, make your writing come alive! Use active, interesting verbs; avoid the passive voice; and bring your reader into the article (and onto the field!) with specific, sensory details.
Like other forms of journalism, a sports article benefits from a carefully crafted structure. In just a few sentences, you must pull the reader in and make sure they hang on every line until the last! Read the definitions below, and be sure to check out the resource “Sports Journalism: It’s all in the structure!” for more info and examples.
  • HEADLINE: Five to ten words that grab the reader’s attention and give them a quick overview of what’s in the story. 
  • LEDE: The opening paragraph of an article, that serves to solidify the reader’s interest.  
  • NUT: The paragraph that provides context for your topic and the information needed to understand the issue at hand. Somewhere in the LEDE or NUT, make sure you’ve covered the five “W’s and the H”! (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How)
  • BODY: What happened! The outcome; the highlights; how an issue has developed over time, or how the community is responding; quotes from fans, athletes, coaches, or experts…
  • CLOSE: A few lines that wrap up the article, posing an additional question about the topic or offering a fresh way of looking at the issue.  
Who is Eligible?   
Young writers ages 13-18   
600 – 1,000 words 

Is previously published work eligible?
Our monthly competitions are designed to get you writing across a range of genres throughout the year, so we encourage you to  write a new work for each  competition, but we will also accept work that has been previously shared with a small, local audience (for instance, a piece that was published in a school journal).

How to Enter 
  1. If you haven’t yet, sign up for a free account for Write the World as a young writer here
  2. Hit the “Start Writing” button above! 
  3. Draft your entry! Hit “Save” to return to it later. 
  4. The first 100 people to submit a draft by May 9 will receive an in-depth review from one of our Expert Reviewers—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals—that you can use to revise your final entry. The “Submit for Expert Review” button will be clickable if slots are still available—click it to have your draft reviewed. (Note: you can still enter the competition if you haven’t received or don’t want to receive an Expert Review!) 
  5. When you are ready to submit your entry, hit the "Submit as Final" button (You can revise, re-publish, and mark any version as your "final submission" until the deadline.
  6. Only one entry per person, please. 
Guest Judge: Joon Lee 
Joon Lee is a staff writer for ESPN covering the intersection of sports and culture. He appears as a regular panelist on Around the Horn and his writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Bleacher Report, SB Nation and The Ringer. He was born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in Boston, Massachusetts.

  • Best Entry: $100 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the winning piece, and an interview with the author will be featured on Write the World’s blog) 
  • Runner up: $50 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the piece will be featured on Write the World’s blog)
  • Best Peer Review: $50 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the best peer review and an interview with the reviewer will be featured on Write the World’s blog)     

What’s Different about Write the World Competitions? 
  • Prizes: The winning entrant will receive $100, and the runner-up and best peer-reviewer will receive $50.       
  • Professional Recognition: The winning entry, plus the runner-up and best peer review, will be featured on our blog, with commentary from our guest judge.       
  • Expert Review: Submit your draft by Monday, May 9 and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.  

Key Dates 
  • May 2: Competition Opens  
  • May 9: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 100 drafts submitted.)      
  • May 13: Reviews returned to Writers  
  • May 17: Final Submissions Due
  • May 27: Winners Announced  
Upcoming Competition
Our Food Writing Competition opens Monday, June 6th.
Stay tuned for more details!  
Writing Guidelines
The power of our writing goes hand in hand with responsibility. Make sure that you’re supporting other people through your writing rather than pulling them down. The types of content that will be removed from the site include, but are not limited to:   
  • Anything that may be deemed hurtful, defamatory or discriminatory in nature.
  • Anything deemed explicit or gratuitously violent.
  • Anything referencing self-harm. 
  • Any commercial posts and/or spam. 
  • Plagiarism (see more at our Writing Guidelines page). 
  • Personal contact information—including usernames on social media or other platforms. This is to protect the privacy of our members.
  • Links to any external websites, with the exception of links to citations as part of an essay, or including links to illustrations or audio as part of a Write the World competition or prompt.
If a writer posts content that violates our terms or goes against our guidelines, we will remove the post and contact the writer when necessary.  Please refer to our Writing Guidelines and site’s terms for further information.

All final submissions will automatically be published on Write the World’s website.

Due Dates
  • May 9 - Drafts due for Expert Review

  • May 17 - Competition Deadline


Sports Writing Competition Winners Announced!

May 27, 2022

A compelling piece of Sports Writing does so much more than recount final the final score; it goes behind the scenes to show you what spectators don’t see, from the struggles and triumphs of the athletes to the controversies and social impact surrounding the sport to the strategies and mindsets that lead to great—or not so great—results. The winning pieces did all these things: going beyond the numbers to reveal the powerful and thrilling human stories beneath. 

Check out the winners and finalists, as well as Guest Judge Joon Lee’s commentary!

See the Winners!

Sports Writing Competition Tips with Guest Judge Joon Lee

May 3, 2022

For our Sports Writing Competition, we’re asking for a piece of sports journalism that gives an in-depth exploration of a sports figure, issue, or event. Though you may think it’s only for the major sports fans out there, all you really need to thrive in this competition is an interest in people. As ESPN staff writer and Guest Judge Joon Lee says, “Use sports as an entrypoint into telling human stories. My favorite sports stories rarely have anything to do with stats or the results on the field. They’re often stories of triumph, tragedy, and the human spirit.” 

Read on to get more of Joon Lee’s great advice, plus learn how he went from a grade schooler show-and-telling the sports section of newspapers to a professional sports writer!

Get Tips!