To the ASWA membership, and those thinking about joining:

First off, I want to take a moment just to say hello, and express hope that everyone is doing as well as possible during these difficult times. I haven’t seen most of you since the pandemic started, but I’m hopeful that we’re now closer to the end than the beginning.

The purpose of this newsletter is to give you all a heads up that some changes are being made in the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Actually that’s an understatement, and it requires a short explanation.

When I took over in July, the first thing I tried to do was get a copy of the ASWA bylaws to see exactly what everyone’s responsibilities included, and decide on any necessary courses of action. Only I couldn’t find a copy. Days turned into weeks, and then months as the search went on.

In the meantime, the executive committee met and went over some proposed changes with the writing contest. We hashed those out pretty quickly, but didn’t want to finalize the language until checking the bylaws. We continued to ask around.

Finally, in December, I went back to the executive committee and said that if a copy of the bylaws hadn’t been located by Dec. 31, it was time to write up new ones. Considering that even if we did find a copy they’d probably have to be redone anyway it seemed the logical choice.

So here we are, with our own version of a constitutional convention, pandemic-style. However, in our case the entire process will be as transparent as possible.

The ongoing draft is on the ASWA website: https://www.si.com/college/alabama/aswa.

Most of it will probably look very familiar, and that’s by design. We don’t want to create a new organization, just adjust and tweak the great one that we have, while also taking into account the changing nature of sports journalism.

Some of the changes:

• Creating a mentor program and making it a priority.

• Two new awards. The first is called the Presidents' Award (think Bill Shelton Award but outside the ASWA), to be selected by former ASWA presidents. The other is a special category for projects, which may include multimedia elements as long as the writer is involved.

• The criteria for getting into the Hall of Fame or Hall of Honors is being altered, as a candidate only needs to top 65 percent of the vote instead of 75 percent. We’re also opening up the Hall of Honors to include those with a state tie who have had a profound impact on sports journalism as a whole.

There’s more, but you hopefully get the idea.

I want to encourage everyone to please look over what we have, let us know what you like and don’t like, and make suggestions to (bamacentral@zoho.com). The two sections that are sort of a work in progress and will definitely change are the prep committee (mostly because those folks have been incredibly busy and I didn’t want to distract them) and the mentor program.

Finally, feel free to nominate someone to either serve as the director of the mentor program or chair the president’s committee.

Thank you so much,

- Christopher Walsh

Alabama Sports Writers Association president

P.S. A copy of this will be posted on the ASWA site. Feel free to forward to anyone necessary, or I might have missed with the email list.

Tentative Timetable

(Note: The dates for nominations and awards voting are not fixed)

February 1: Initial draft of the bylaws posted

March 1: Initial bylaw discussion/debate concluded; executive committee votes on initial bylaws

March 15: 2021 writing contest announced

March 20-31: Hall of Fame/Hall of Honors nominations

April 1-10: Hall of Fame/Hall of Honors voting

April 20-30: Nominations for athletes of the year voting

May 1: Deadline for 2021 writers contest

May 1-15: Final voting for athletes of the year

June 13: 2021 ASWA convention, Birmingham

Presidents' committee meeting date and location to be determined