The $5,000 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing honors a nonfiction book about sports. Eligible titles should be of a biographical, investigative, historical, or analytical nature and of the strongest literary character.

All winners and finalists for this award are eligible to receive PEN America’s official winner or finalist seal. If you are a publisher of a shortlisted or winning book for this award and are interested in obtaining PEN’s award seal, please write to [email protected].

Click to view past winners of the PEN/ESPN Literary Sports Writing Award »

Eligibility and Submissions for the 2018 Awards


Submissions for 2018 Awards
Submissions for the 2018 awards cycle will open on June 1, 2017.

Who Is Eligible

  • Submissions will only be accepted from publishers and literary agents; authors may not submit their own work.
  • Eligible titles must have been published by a U.S. trade publisher between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017.
  • Candidates must be U.S. residents. American citizenship is not required.
  • Titles must be of biographical, investigative, historical, or analytical nature.
  • Self-published books are not eligible.
  • If you submit a book for this award, you may not submit it for any additional PEN America award. Please note that the PEN/Faulkner and PEN/Hemingway Awards are not considered PEN America awards.

How to apply

1. Please download the award’s Declaration of Eligibility. Complete all fields and have a company executive sign the form in order to confirm the book’s eligibility. If eligible, please mail this form along with one copy of the book to PEN’s office (see step 3). If the book does not meet all of the listed eligibility requirements, it will not be considered for this award.

2. When submissions open for this award, a link to its online submission form will appear here. Each submission is $75*. If you would like to pay by check, please enter CHECK in the coupon code field at checkout. Checks should be made out to PEN American Center. Please also submit a verified email address on the submission form; your order cannot be processed without an email address, as this info will be used to later contact you regarding the shipments of your submission. Please note that submission fees are not refundable.

3. Mail one copy of the candidate’s book along with the completed Declaration of Eligibility (see step 1) to the address below between June 1 and August 15, 2017. Please note that we do accept galleys and bound manuscripts.

PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing
PEN America
588 Broadway, Suite 303
New York, NY 10012

4. Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility by PEN, you will be contacted by [email protected] by the end of the year and asked to ship one copy of the book to each of our three awards judges. Please add [email protected] to your safe sender list.

*Submission fees may be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $4 million. In order to have your dues waived, please have a company official write a letter on company letterhead stating that your press’ annual net sales are less than $4 million. Please send this letter as an attachment (.doc or .pdf) to [email protected]. Once received, you will be provided with a coupon code to use at check-out in order to have your submission fees waived. One fee waiver may be used for all 2018 PEN Awards; you do not need to submit a separate fee waiver for each award.