Awards Categories


Showcase Your Excellence in Engagement

The 2022 categories are split into ten (10) 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 amateur 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 and sports property whose relationship 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.

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 and 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 Camapaign

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 Media Buying Strategy

This award recognizes the most effective strategy of a brand or agency purchasing multiplatform ad space during and surrounding live sports in order to market to fans. Judges will review a 12 month period to determine how the advertising strategy increased engagement.

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 types of 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 short-form content, including 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 over ten minutes 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 of a brand, publisher or property 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.).

Emerging.

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Best Engagement Through NFTs or Digital Collectibles

This award recognizes the most effective and creative use of NFTs or digital collectibles by a team, league, athlete, creator or brand to give fans a new way to connect.

Best NIL Program (Athletic Department)

This award recognizes a college or university that has led the way in supporting its athletes through the start of the NIL era by introducing resources, education, technology and compliance processes.

Best NIL Program (Brand, Agency or Tech)

This award goes to a brand, agency, or tech platform which has championed and enabled partnerships with collegiate and amatuer athletes during the NIL era through a coordinated program or targeted initiative. For consideration of individual partnerships, please see Most Creative Partnership with an Athlete or Influencer.

Entertainment.

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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 Entertainment Partnership

This award recognizes creative excellence stemming from the integration of a sports brand or organization into a form of non-sports media and entertainment—including but not limited to scripted television, unscripted television, film, fictional characters, etc.—with the goal of one or both parties reaching a new audience.

Best Use of Music or Pop Culture

This award recognizes the most creative integration of popular culture into sports content, campaigns, or activations. Entries may utilize music, comedy, celebrities, fashion, culinary or other verticals to highlight the increasing convergence of sports with popular culture and the importance of such in engaging young audiences and diversifying fan bases.

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 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 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 AR or VR

This award recognizes the most effective use of augmented, virtual or mixed reality to provide new and immersive experiences to fans.

Best Broadcast or Stream Experience

This award recognizes an innovative live game broadcast or streaming experience that delivers a fresh take on sports coverage and offers a high-quality user experience in order to adapt to evolving fan consumption habits.

Best New Fan Experience

This award recognizes an organization or technology that has created an exceptional new type of experience for fans. Entries may include, but are not limited to, virtual attendance or watch parties, innovative broadcasts, or in-venue activations or technologies.

Best in Direct-to-Consumer or Social Commerce

This award recognizes the most effective use of e-commerce through a publisher or property’s website or using e-commerce features on a social media platform. Entries may include subscription streaming products, merchandise, ticket sales, etc.

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 found within a brand, property or publisher’s consumer base.

Outstanding Social Justice Initiative

This award recognizes a program, project or other initiative by an organization to amplify awareness and/or advocate for meaningful change on issues of societal inequities by leveraging the power of sports. Judges will look for entries that encourage civic or community engagement.

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 among employees. Judges will look for entries that demonstrate a people-first approach and feature specific examples of ways employees are engaged.

Social Media.

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Twitter

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

Instagram

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

TikTok

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

Snapchat

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

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 platforms, including but not limited to Instagram Live, Facebook Live, Twitch, and more. Entries may feature a single stream or series.

Best Use of Social Audio

This award recognizes the most engaging and effective use of social audio features and platforms (Clubhouse, Spaces, Greenroom, etc.) to engage fans in new and creative ways. Judges will evaluate the unique attributes of social audio helped achieve specific business goals.

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 engaged in new ways.

Best in Graphic Design

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

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, FTP games or apps, data or broadcast integration, influencer partnerships and more. Judges will look for entries helping change how fans engage with live sports.

Best Sports Betting Content

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

Best Sportsbook

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.

Best in Fantasy Sports

This award will recognize a platform that exemplifies excellence in fantasy sports. Entries may include fantasy games & platforms, fantasy-centric media or content, and more.

*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 redeem 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 and epitomizes the impact of the next generation and talent shift on the future of 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), Jung von Matt (2020), and the NBA (2021).

Outstanding Achievement in Overall Engagement for an Organization

This prestigious honor is given to the organization with the highest rating across all categories to reflect industry-wide excellence in engagement on all platforms and projects. Rating is determined through a combination of total shortlist 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 4th Hashtag Sports Awards will open on January 5, 2022. Sign up below to receive announcements and special promotions.