Athletics writers look to scale-down annual dinner

By Matthew Brown
The British Athletics Writers’ Annual Awards dinner should revert to a smaller, less corporate event from 2011.

That was the overwhelming view of BAWA members at their annual meeting in Birmingham, where the future of the organisation’s traditional end of season ceremony was the main item of discussion.

As reported by BAWA chairman Simon Turnbull in May, the Association was approached by the current dinner sponsor, Aviva, with a suggestion to merge the BAWA dinner with that of the governing body, UK Athletics.

Meanwhile, many BAWA members had become concerned that the awards night has become too large, glitzy and corporate in recent years, leading to a decline in attendance by athletics writers.

These concerns were at the centre of the discussion at the AGM where members declared their support for:

• retaining a separate BAWA dinner and not merging with the UK Athletics event, in order to preserve the heritage and status of the BAWA awards
• going ahead with this year’s event in central London on Saturday November 13 as normal (assuming Aviva are happy to organise it again)
• downsizing to a more intimate event from 2011, focused more on BAWA members, athletes, and other guests.

Views on exactly what form such an event might take ranged from staging a mid-week lunch with a handful of athletes, to a weekend evening dinner of reasonable size, but in a smaller venue than recent years. It was recognised that the venue, location, timing and cost of any event will affect members’ ability to attend and should be borne in mind.

Mel Watman, a founder member of BAWA, reminded us that 2012 will be the 50th anniversary of the organisation and therefore provides a great opportunity to honour British athletics writing and writers over the years, as well as past and present athletes, and to celebrate the London Olympics.

It was agreed that further discussion is needed on the dinner’s future and members are encouraged to share their views with Simon.

Associate members
Following Simon’s proposal in the last issue of the newsletter, it was decided to introduce a new Associate Member category for writers from organisations with a vested interest in the sport.

This follows requests to join BAWA from a number of media staff working for organisations such as UK Athletics and FastTrack.

Associate members will be entitled to a £5 discount in the subscription fee and the same dinner discounts as full members. They are also welcome to attend AGMs and other meetings but will not be able to vote.