British Society of Sports History

Promoting the Study of the History of Sport

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The BSSH is committed to supporting and celebrating sport history researchers at all stages of their careers. It offers prizes:

  • The Lord Aberdare Literary Prize [2020 shortlist announced]
  • The Richard Cox Postgraduate Prize [not running in 2020]
  • The Sport in History Undergraduate Essay Prize [2020 entries OPEN]
  • New for 2019-20, the Best Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) Project Prize [2020 winner announced]


The Lord Aberdare Literary Prize 2020 (for books published in 2019)

The Lord Aberdare Literary Prize is awarded each year by the British Society of Sports History for the best book on any aspect of the history of sport in Britain or for the best book on any aspect of sports history written by a British author. The British Society of Sports History appoints a panel of three judges to consider submissions. 


This year, the panel consisted of Richard Boddie (as Chair), Imogen Gibbon, and Conor Curran. A substantial number of excellent submissions were received, and the panel was impressed by the breadth of topics under examination and the scholarship. Panel members agreed upon an outstanding shortlist of seven texts:

  • Collins, T. How Football Began A Global History of How the World’s Footballing Codes Were Born (Routledge)

  • Day, D. and Roberts, M. Swimming Communities in Victorian England (Palgrave Macmillan)

  • Hay, R. Aboriginal People and Australian Football in the Nineteenth Century: They Did Not Come from Nowhere (Cambridge Scholars Publishing)

  • James, G.  The Emergence of Footballing Cultures: Manchester, 1840–1919 (Manchester University Press)

  • Kidambi, P. Cricket Country: An Indian Odyssey in the Age of Empire (Oxford University Press)

  • Nicholson, R. Lords and Ladies: A History of Women’s Cricket in Britain (Peter Lang)

  • Tozer, M. Edward Thring’s Theory, Practice and Legacy: Physical Education in Britain since 1800 (Cambridge Scholars Publishing)


The winner will be announced at the 2020 BSSH Conference, which is being held online from August 26 – 28 (programme available here).


Previous winners of the Lord Aberdare Literary Prize (to 2005) are listed below:

  • 2019 - Richard Mills, The Politics of Football in Yugoslavia: Sport, Nationalism and the State (Taurus)
  • 2018 - Eric Chaline, Strokes of Genius: A History of Swimming (Reaktion Books)
  • 2017 - Richard Haynes, BBC Sport in Black and White (Palgrave)
  • 2016 – Tony Collins, The Oval World: A Global History of Rugby (Bloomsbury)
  • 2015 – Rob Lake, A Social History of Tennis In Britain (Routledge)
  • 2014 – David Snowdon, Writing the Prizefight: Pierce Egan’s Boxiana World (Peter Lang)
  • 2013 – Kevin Jefferys, Sport and Politics in Modern Britain. The Road to 2012 (Palgrave Macmillan)
  • 2012 – Simon Martin, Sport Italia: the Italian Love Affair with Sport (I.B. Tauris)
  • 2011 – Kay Schiller and Christopher Young, The 1972 Munich Olympics and the Making of Modern Germany (University of California Press)
  • 2010 – Tony Collins, A Social History of English Rugby Union (Routledge)
  • 2009 – Kasia Boddy, Boxing: A Cultural History (Reaktion Books)
  • 2008 – Emma Griffin, Blood Sport: Hunting in Britain since 1066 (Yale University Press)/Paul Dimeo, A History of Drug Use in Sport, 1876 –1976: Beyond Good and Evil (Routledge)
  • 2007 – Tony Collins, Rugby League in Twentieth Century Britain: A Social and Cultural History (Routledge)
  • 2006 – Emma Griffin, England’s Revelry: A History of Popular Sports and Pastimes, 1660-1830 (The British Academy/Oxford University Press)
  • 2005 – Simon Martin, Football and Fascism: The National Game under Mussolini (Berg)


New EPQ Award (2020 Award announced - see Latest News!)

British Society of Sports History Prize for Best Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) Project on an aspect of Sports History

This is a brand new prize for the 2019/20 academic year. All students entering for the EPQ in 2019/20 are eligible.

Students are invited to submit (via their teachers) their EPQ essay, focused on any sports-history related subject, for consideration by our panel of judges.

Application process:

  1. Entries should be submitted as a PDF document by a member of staff on behalf of the student, not by the student directly.
  2. The entry should be accompanied by a separate sheet giving the student’s name, the name and address of the institution at which they are studying, and contact details (email address and telephone number) for the relevant member of staff.
  3. Entries should be emailed to Katie Taylor -
  4. Teachers with queries related to the competition may contact Katie Taylor on

Deadline: All applications must be received by midnight on 19 April 2020.

Results will be made known before the end of the summer term.

Prize: £100 in Amazon vouchers, and membership of the British Society of Sports History for one year. The teacher submitting the entry will also receive membership of BSSH for one year.

The winning student will be invited to present their project at the BSSH’s annual conference in September 2020, with all expenses paid by BSSH. 


Sport in History Undergraduate Essay Prize (2020 call now open!)

In 2018-19, Sport in History launched an essay prize to recognise excellent work in the discipline by undergraduate students. Due to its success last year, the prize will be awarded again for the academic year 2019-20.

Both Sport in History and the BSSH are committed to encouraging and supporting the next generation of researchers in sport history. This initiative aims to reward and to stimulate excellent undergraduate research in the discipline, and to introduce undergraduate researchers to the network of sport historians in Britain.

The prize will be awarded to the author of an outstanding undergraduate dissertation. These will ordinarily have been awarded first class honours by the student’s university, although particularly strong upper-second class submissions will be considered.

The winning essay will be selected by a panel of judges on the quality of the research, clarity of argument and expression, and originality. The author will be awarded £200, and invited to publish the paper on the BSSH website.


The winner for 2019 was Alex Riggs of the University of Nottingham for his paper Part-time athlete, full-time serious thinker’: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Arthur Ashe in the ‘long 1970s’, supervised by Dr Joe Merton.


To read Alex's paper, click here.



Submission: Chairs of Examination Boards must recommend the essays for the prize. Sport in History is unable to accept submissions directly from students. Chairs should submit outstanding dissertations for the prize on behalf of their student/s over email to by Monday 16 November 2020.

Style: Different universities will have different requirements for undergraduate dissertations. We will therefore not require particular referencing conventions or presentation styles, but would expect each submission to be internally consistent throughout.

Sport in History reserves the right not to award the prize if it does not receive submissions deemed to be of high enough quality.


Richard Cox Postgraduate Prize [not running in 2020 due to COVID-19 and restructure of annual Conference]

Part of the BSSH’s mission is to be accessible to and encourage new researchers, including postgraduate students and academics at an early stage in their careers. The Richard Cox Postgraduate Prize is awarded to reflect outstanding work from new researchers in sports history. The winner will be selected by a panel of judges based on a written paper and on the delivery of that paper at the annual conference, and awarded £100 and a certificate. The researcher will also be invited to submit their paper to the BSSH's journal, Sport in History.

Application Procedure

At the time of the initial submission of their abstract for their paper the author should indicate that they wish to be considered for the Richard Cox Prize. They should explain the basis upon which the author is eligible i.e. at the time of submitting their paper authors should be engaged in full or part-time postgraduate research or be within 1 year of completing their research degree.

Co-authored papers will not normally be considered.


While we encourage the submission of different kinds of papers, to be eligible for the prize, papers must be a maximum of 6,000 words. Style should be consistent throughout, i.e footnotes where appropriate, and a separate list of references. Papers should be no smaller than size 12 Times New Roman and 1.5 or double spacing. Name and contact details of author, paper title, short abstract with keywords must also be included on a separate page (please follow SiH conventions).

The assessment process

The written paper must be submitted to the conference organizers a month prior to the first day of the annual conference. A panel of judges will be selected by the BSSH Committee which will assess both the content of the papers under consideration and the presentation.

Award of the Prize

The winner of the Prize will be announced at the conference and on the BSSH website; if the winner is not attending the conference, they will be notified within one month.