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As we entered the 21st century, and after the Association merged with the Professional Sports Photographers’ Association and began to represent an ever widening range of sports journalists across all media, the SWA changed its name to Sports Journalists’ Association.

“It is desirable that an association of sporting journalists be formed”

The SJA represents sports journalists across Britain. The SJA is the only British sports journalism body affiliated to the Association Internationale de la Press Sportive (AIPS) and the Union European de la Presse Sportive (UEPS), and is Britain’s voice in international sports journalism affairs.

Who is it for?

Membership is open to full-time professional journalists based in Great Britain, a significant proportion of whose work is in sport.

The SJA is an essential service for all sports journalists – writers, sub-editors, photographers, presenters, producers, cameramen and editors – working in national and regional press, magazines, radio and television.

What does it do?

The Association represents the British sports media on the British Olympic Association’s press advisory committee and offers advice to members covering other major events. The SJA also acts as a consultant to organisers of major events who need guidance on media requirements.

What are the benefits?

As a member of the SJA you will be entitled to:

  • Receive the SJA Press Card, which provides photo ID that is widely accepted for accreditation purposes.
  • Vote in the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year annual ballot.
  • Buy tickets for the prestigious annual British Sports Awards event with members’ tickets at less than half price.
  • Participate in the SJA British Sports Journalism and Photography Awards, with reduced entry fees and tickets to attend the awards dinner for members at less than half price.
  • Attend our SJA lunches staged through the year with headline-making sports figures, again with ticket prices subsidised.
  • Take part in the Golf Days and other social events the SJA holds regularly throughout the year, where you can network with sports personalities and fellow members.
  • Receive regular bulletins which will keep you up-to-date on future sporting events, accreditation contacts, technology and other news of interest to SJA members.
  • Receive discounted rates on subscriptions offers to a number of sports-related information services and special rates on legal services.
  • Apply for the internationally recognised AIPS Press Card, which is only available to members of an affiliated national sports association.

“It is desirable that an association of sporting journalists be formed”

With that formal statement the first seed of the Sports Writers’ Association was sown in November 1947. Six representatives of the national sporting press made the decision over lunch and five of them formed an exploratory committee that met in a Fleet Street pub two days before Christmas.

On April 15, 1948, the Association was founded, with 21 members, one of whom, Peter Bryan, remains a member today.

The first annual dinner was held in 1949 (for men only) and the following year the first ballot was held among members, by then numbering nearly 100, to determine which six men had contributed most to Britain’s international sporting prestige – still the criterion on which annual awards are made.

Sportswomen were similarly honoured at a separate function in 1959, and were permanently built into the main event from the end of 1963. Since then the celebration of awards to the Sportsmen and Sportswomen of the Year have been attended by most of the great sports stars of the day. and guests of honour have included prime ministers and members of the royal family. The 1998 Golden Jubilee awards night was patronised by HRH the Princess Royal – her fourth appearance at the dinner.

The SWA’s international responsibilities are considerable. It is Britain’s voice at the annual congress of the Association Internationale de la Press Sportive (AIPS), of which member Frank Taylor was president for 16 years. The work intensifies as each Olympic Games approaches, and for the task of allocating the national quota of press accreditations. Since 1980, what is now the Sports Journalists Association has provided an Olympic press attaché, whose work before and during the Games is substantial.

By David Hunn

Three-time SWA chairman and author of 50 years of the Sports Writers’ Association of Great Britain

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