Back in the early days of the Associated Press Sports Editors, an idea was formed in the ever-creative mind of Dave Smith, one of the founding fathers of APSE.
The idea: because sports sections were so critical to the success of the newspaper and sports writers were so outstanding, an award was needed to honor such writers as Red Smith, Jim Murray, Blackie Sherrod, Shirley Povich, Edwin Pope, Furman Bisher and many others.
The time was late 1980 or early 1981 when Smith suggested it to APSE’s Executive Committee. The committee agreed and also agreed that Red Smith, a long-time sports columnist for The New York Times, was the perfect writer to name the award after. APSE members concurred.
Hence, the Red Smith Award, which is given annually by APSE to a person – a writer or editor — who has made major contributions to sports journalism. The award is regarded as the highest sports journalism honor in the country, and Red Smith was the first winner in 1981.
“Sports writers were and still are national figures that fans of the games and the newspaper follow,” Dave Smith said. “They were key to selling newspapers. And they were as well known in the world of sports as were the athletes and coaches they wrote about.”
— Jack Berninger, former APSE Executive Director and current chairman of APSE’s Red Smith Award Committee.