PEN America Literary Awards PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing

The PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing is given to one living American or U.S.-based writer each year to celebrate their body of work. The award recognizes a lifetime of writing about sports and its dimensions of character and action with keen knowledge and insight, and especially with a literary voice evidenced in a style of agility and flair. The winner’s work may be in short- or long-form prose.

Dave Kindred

Dave Kindred, 2018 Winner

Judges: Chloe Cooper Jones, Joe Nocera, Sally Jenkins

From the judges’ citation: “For more than half a century Dave Kindred has written about sports with a primacy of the physical senses and a plain, spare language that make his pieces into immediate personal experiences. A curve at a race track becomes an exercise in rising dread. The thrum of a stock car engine vibrates in the chest. A jockey’s whip strikes the face of a great racehorse, and the followers of his words feel the foul. In seven books, scores of magazine pieces, and newspaper columns from the Louisville Courier-Journal to the Washington Post, Kindred has explored with equal curiosity and insight the largest championships across the globe, and a girls basketball team in small high school gym in Normal, Illinois. Muhammad Ali appears to light the Olympic Torch “as if materializing before the eyes of the world.” At Daytona, “they dress up by tucking in their T-shirts.” A baseball season “is a novel written in the dirt. There is no rushing to the end.” Kindred’s work is like such a novel, a page-turning experience the reader is reluctant to ever reach the end of.”


Featured Works

Morning Miracle by Dave Kindred

Sound And Fury by Dave Kindred

For The Love Of The Game by Dave Kindred


Previous Winners

2011  Roger Angell

2012  Dan Jenkins

2013  Frank Deford

2014  Dave Anderson

2015  Bob Ryan

2016  John Schulian

2017 William Nack 



Selection Process

  • Nominations must be made by awards judges or PEN Members. Click here to learn how to become a member.
  • The nomination form will require:
    • A statement of support that describes in some detail how the sports writer meets the criteria for the award.
    • Detailed information on the sports writer’s past publications

Click here to fill out the nomination form.