Awards Categories

The 2023 categories are split into nine (9) groups and an award for Overall Excellence in Engagement.

Brands & Partnerships.

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Most Creative Partnership With an Athlete or Influencer

This award recognizes fan engagement excellence from a brand, property, or publisher for collaboration with or integration of an athlete or social influencer into content, campaigns, or activations. Judges will look at how the talent helped the organization better resonate with fans and deliver mutual & measurable impact. Entries may include NIL partnerships with amatuer and collegiate athletes.

Most Creative Partnership

This award recognizes fan engagement excellence resulting from collaboration between two or more organizations in or around sports. Partnership need not be a sponsorship but may exist between any combination of brands, technology companies, publishers, sports properties or other organizations.

Best Brand Sponsorship

This award recognizes a brand whose relationship with a sports property or publisher demonstrates the power of partnership. Judges will look for entries that drove marketing results, uniquely engaged fans, and contributed to a broader purpose beyond sport.

Best Brand Experience or Activation

This award recognizes an innovative activation, stunt, or experience produced by a brand or agency and designed to help turn fans into consumers through a sporting event. Entries may include both virtual and in-person experiences.

Best Women’s Sports Partnership

This award recognizes collaboration between two or more organizations (or between an organization and female athlete) which helped increase visibility of women’s sports. Entries may include brand sponsorships or strategic partnerships.

Best NIL Program or Partnership

This award recognizes a name, image, and likeness effort that champions collegiate and amatuer athletes. Entries may include programs developed by athletic departments to introduce resources, education, technology and compliance processes or partnerships between student-athletes, brands, agencies, and tech platforms.

Campaigns & Marketing.

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Best Social Media Campaign

This award recognizes a marketing campaign that involved the use of one or more social media platforms. Judges will be looking for viral or coordinated campaigns that generated fan/consumer conversation, connection, and results. Entries may be part of a multi-platform or integrated campaign but will be judged on engagement derived through social media.

Best Integrated Campaign

This award recognizes campaigns that meld new media and traditional channels (out-of-home, PR, print, etc.) to create a unified and engaging message. The mix of marketing channels, strategy showcasing how content was enhanced across each platform, and engagement that drove measurable results are key factors judges will be looking for.

Best Sports Communication Strategy

This award recognizes the most creative public relations or communications strategy used to tell the story of a sports partnership, brand/product launch, or other announcement. Entries may be part of an integrated campaign but will be judged on engagement derived through earned media.

Content.

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Best Original Content (Under 10 min)

This award recognizes high-quality digital and web shows, social video series, and/or shorts with which fans are proven to have engaged. Entries may be scripted or unscripted but must not include the use or incorporation of a brand sponsor (see Best Branded Content or Series) and must be under ten minutes in length.

Best Original Content or Series (10 min+)

This award recognizes high-quality digital and web series, linear content or films with which fans are proven to have engaged. Entries may be scripted or unscripted but must not include the use or incorporation of a brand sponsor (see Best Branded Content or Series) and must be ten minutes or longer in length.

Best Branded Content or Series

This award recognizes content that is sponsored by or fused with a marketer’s product, brand or message. Judges will be looking for digital or social video, web series, linear content or short-form films that offer entertainment value to fans and effectively amplify both the brand sponsor and publisher’s core message.

Best Sports Podcast

This award recognizes the most engaging podcast devoted to sports news, sports culture, sports storytelling, or that is hosted by an athlete and/or sports personality. Judges will look for podcasts that set the industry standard for conversation and connection through audio.

Best Use of Fan-Generated Content

This award recognizes best-in-class integration of user-generated content (UGC) or real fans into content or a campaign. Judges will look for entries in which the fan perspective is represented authentically. Entries may also include co-creation with athletes and digital influencers who are fans.

Best Women’s Sports Content

This award recognizes exceptional efforts to fuel momentum and fandom of women’s sports leagues, teams and female athletes. Entries may include all forms of content, marketing campaigns, and/or other story-driven work.

Best Athlete Storytelling

This award recognizes exceptional efforts in telling stories through the lens of an athlete. Judges will look for entries that resonate with fans by sharing an athlete’s most personal stories and passions.

Best Life or Legacy Tribute

This award recognizes exceptional storytelling surrounding the life or legacy of an individual athlete, sports celebrity, executive or other influential personality. The tribute may be posthumous or spotlight someone still living (e.g. a retirement, retrospective, comeback story, etc.).

Best Short-Form Video

This award recognizes short-form social media content made strategically for the platform on which it lives. Entries may be standalone videos (like game day hype videos) or part of a marketing campaign or series.

CREATIVITY.

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Best in Graphic Design

This award recognizes the most engaging and effective use of design work to engage sports fans through creative and shareable graphics and art.

Best Use of Motion Graphics or Animation

This award recognizes the most creative and effective use of GIFs, visual effects or animated content to keep fans entertained and engaged.

Best in Sports Photography

This award recognizes the most engaging use of sports photography and visual storytelling to capture sports moments and memories. Entries may include a singular photo or a photo portfolio.

Best Use of Culture, Music or Entertainment

This award recognizes the most creative integration of popular culture into sports content, campaigns, or activations. Entries may utilize music, comedy, celebrities, film, fashion, culinary or other verticals to highlight the increasing convergence of sports with popular culture and entertainment.

Fan Experience.

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Best Website

This award recognizes an online destination that puts the fan at the heart of the experience. Judges will look for a website that is uniquely well-designed or plays a critical role in driving results for the organization across sales, marketing, and engagement.

Best App or Mobile Experience

This award recognizes a mobile experience or application that makes sports content and experiences more accessible and easier for fans to engage.

Best Engagement Through NFTs or Digital Collectibles

This award recognizes the most effective and creative use of NFTs or digital collectibles to give fans a new way to connect with their favorite sports clubs, athletes, and brands.

Best Engagement Through Esports or Gaming

This award recognizes the most effective use of esports or video gaming to connect with sports fans and/or young audiences. Entries may include esports partnerships, events, teams/leagues, content, or other forms of engagement.

Best Use of Technology

This award recognizes an innovative approach to leveraging technology and/or data to build deeper relationships with fans or create personalized experiences.

Best Use of Gamification

This award will recognize the most effective use of a game or game-like qualities embedded within a sports experience, broadcast, or other activity to increase interaction and keep fans engaged. Entries may include, but are not limited to, examples of free-to-play games, DFS, sports betting, rewards programs, online/mobile games or competitions and more.

Best OTT or Streaming Experience

This award recognizes an OTT platform, subscription service, or online streaming experience that offers a high-quality user experience in order to adapt to evolving fan consumption habits. Judges will look for entries that deliver a fresh take on sports coverage (including live and/or shoulder programming).

Best New Fan Experience

This award recognizes an organization or technology that has created a new type of experience for fans or demonstrates a breakthrough innovation in fan engagement.

Impact.

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Best Engagement for Good

This award recognizes work to engage fans that has a positive impact on individuals or society. Judges will examine how resources were deployed across content, campaigns, or experiences to create long-lasting results. Entries may relate to social activism, CSR, community work, charitable efforts and more.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Sports

This award recognizes content, campaigns, or organizational initiatives that champion diversity, equity and inclusion in sports—whether in the boardroom or on the court/field—and promotes equal opportunities for all.

Excellence in Multicultural Storytelling

This award recognizes content, campaigns or other forms of storytelling that share perspectives of and resonate with the different ethnicities, cultures and communities. Judges will look for entries that help to diversify sports storytelling and audiences.

Outstanding Social Justice Initiative

This award recognizes content or other forms of storytelling that empower Black voices, history and stories through the lens of sport. Entries may include, but are not limited to, work celebrating Black History Month, amplifying the Black Lives Matter movement, and/or spotlighting Black trailblazers.

Excellence in Black Storytelling

This award recognizes content or other forms of storytelling that empower Black voices, history and stories through the lens of sport. Entries may include, but are not limited to, work celebrating Black History Month, amplifying the Black Lives Matter movement, and/or spotlighting Black trailblazers.

Best in Employee Engagement

This award recognizes the work of an organization to build passion, commitment and positive working culture. Judges will look for organizations that demonstrate a people-first approach, prioritize diversity & inclusion, and feature specific examples of ways employees are committed to the cause.

Social Media.

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Twitter

This award recognizes the most engaging use of Twitter to engage fans. Entries may include overall presence on the platform, platform-specific campaigns, use of Spaces or other features, or individual standout Tweets.

Instagram

This award recognizes the most engaging use of Instagram to engage fans. Entries may include overall presence on the platform, platform-specific campaigns, use of Stories or other native features, or individual posts.

TikTok

This award recognizes the most engaging use of TikTok to engage fans. Entries may include overall presence on the platform, platform-specific campaigns, or individual posts.

YouTube

This award recognizes the most engaging use of YouTube to engage fans. Entries may include overall presence on the platform, platform-specific content series, or individual YouTube videos.

Snapchat

This award recognizes the most engaging use of Snapchat to engage fans. Entries may include overall presence on the platform, platform-specific campaigns, Originals series or Discover partnerships.

Best Use of Live Video

This award recognizes the most engaging and effective use of live streamed video by an organization or athlete on one or more social or streaming platforms, including but not limited to Instagram Live, Facebook Live, Twitch, TikTok and more. Entries may feature a single stream or series.

Best Female Athlete on Social Media

This award recognizes a female athlete who best demonstrates excellence in building relationships with her fans through social media in the past calendar year. Judges will be looking for individuals who consistently excel in producing inspiring, entertaining, and creative content and generating fan interaction.

Best Male Athlete on Social Media

This award recognizes a male athlete who best demonstrates excellence in building relationships with his fans through social media in the past calendar year. Judges will be looking for individuals who consistently excel in producing inspiring, entertaining, and creative content and generating fan interaction.

Best Digital Creator or Sports Influencer

This award recognizes an online influencer or creator (athlete or non-athlete) who best utilizes digital video content and platforms to build authentic audience relationships and inspire fans. Judges will look for creators whose content reflects the tastes and passions of his/her fans.

Sports Betting.

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Best Sports Betting Partnership

This award recognizes a partnership designed to improve the fan experience in tandem with sport betting’s rapid adoption. Entries may include sportsbook sponsorships, free to play games or apps, data or broadcast integration, influencer partnerships and more. Judges will look for entries helping change how fans engage on gameday.

Best Sports Betting Content

This award recognizes the most effective use of sports betting to build deeper relationships with fans through media, including original content, digital video or audio, studio shows, dedicated social media handles and more.

Best Sportsbook or Operator

This award recognizes a sports betting brand or operator that has created the best experience—in person, mobile or online—for fans to place bets.

*Special Achievement.

*Entry fee waived for organizations also submitting to at least one (1) category outside of the Special Achievement awards. You must submit to the industry category prior to the special achievement category to receive the promo code for free credit. Refunds will not be provided if submitted in reverse order.

Engagement Executive of the Year

This prestigious honor recognizes an executive who is shaping the future of sports content and experiences, raising the fan engagement bar not only for their organization but the industry at-large.

Next Up Award

This prestigious honor recognizes a professional under the age of thirty-five whose work emphasizes the impact of the next generation of leaders on sports and entertainment. Judges will look for an individual who is digitally savvy and an agent of change that will create a more inclusive and engaging future.

Outstanding Intern Contribution

This unique honor recognizes a student (undergraduate or graduate) who made an exceptional contribution to a team, department or business while interning with an organization in or adjacent to sports. Judges will look for an individual with leadership aptitude and capability to shape the future of content, marketing or engagement during their career. Students must be nominated by the internship provider - self-nominations not accepted.

Social Media Team of the Year

This prestigious honor recognizes a team of individuals who collectively contributed to creating an industry-best presence on social media on behalf of their organization through voice, innovation in content, and cultural relevance.

*Overall Excellence.

Previous winners include Bleacher Report (2019), the NBA (2021), and Jung von Matt (2020 & 2022).

Outstanding Achievement in Overall Engagement for an Organization

Our most prestigious honor, this award recognizes the organization reflects industry-wide excellence in engagement on all platforms and projects and is awarded to the finalist organization with the highest cumulative rating across all categories. Rating is determined through a combination of total finalist nominations and weighted scores of judges. Entrants must submit to two or more categories in order to become eligible for this distinction.

*No additional entry fee is required.

Inspired to enter your own work?

Entries to the 5th Hashtag Sports Awards will close February 17, 2023. Sign up below to receive announcements and special promotions.