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.

Jackie MacMullan

Jackie "Mac" MacMullan, 2019 Winner

Judges: Chris Bachelder, Rafi Kohan, Carvell Wallace

From the judges’ citation: For the high literary quality of her sportswriting, her exemplary use of the oral history form, and her body of work including Basketball: A Love Story (2018), When the Game Was Ours (2013; with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson), Geno: In Pursuit of Perfection (2006), and her many years as a newspaper sportswriter and NBA columnist. She is the first female sportswriter to win the PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing.

Featured Works

Basketball A Love Story by Jackie Macmullan

When The Game Was Ours by Jackie Macmullan

Geno by Jackie Macmullan


Previous Winners

2011  Roger Angell

2012  Dan Jenkins

2013  Frank Deford

2014  Dave Anderson

2015  Bob Ryan

2016  John Schulian

2017 William Nack 

2018 Dave Kindred



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.