The world of sports media and journalism was difficult enough when there were, well, sports. Now, with an uncertain timeline for their return thanks to COVID-19 (and the prospect of a global recession further damaging a reeling industry), things are tough for people already with jobs and careers, much less journalism students hoping to break in.

But there are still plenty of students with that dream, and a new contest launched by Jonathan Eig and Jeff Pearlman aims to give those students a chance to show off their talents. It’s called The Big Scribble, it’s free to enter, and it comes with a chance at legitimately cool prizes. (Also, honestly, it sounds really fun.)

In addition to Eig and Pearlman, judges include Washington Post NBA writer Candace Buckner, Pulitzer-winner David Maraniss, Sun-Times culture writer Evan F. Moore, and Bleacher Report staff writer Mirin Fader.

There’s also a panel of guest judges, including:

Wright Thompson (ESPN), Shirley Leung (Boston Globe, @leung) Chuck Creekmur (allhiphop.com, @chuckcreekmur), Monica Eng (WBEZ, @monicaeng), Flynn McRoberts (Bloomberg News, @flynnmcroberts), Christopher John Farley (Audible).

The contest involves five assignments, with a few other rules as well:

1.  The Big Scribble is open to high school and college journalists—including those working on graduate degrees. There is no age limit.

2.  If you are a high school or college journalist, email a video—one minute or less—introducing yourself, your school and what you hope to achieve as a journalist and as a contestant in The Big Scribble. Our e-mail address is: thebigscribble@mail.com

3.  Accompanying the video, in the text of the e-mail, list your four favorite words, and your one least-favorite word.

4. The Big Scribble starts April 20. We’ll email you an assignment on Monday morning. Deadline is noon Friday. No exceptions, no excuses. We’ll eliminate contestants each week. After five weeks and five assignments, we’ll pick a winner.

5.  We want to share your work, including the video. If you object to that, let us know.

6.  You will be judged only on the quality of your work. Where you attend school makes no difference. Your age, gender, race, sexuality, favorite Jonas brother—non-factors.

7.  No one affiliated with The Big Scribble is making a cent on this endeavor. It is a 100% volunteer project, with the goal of helping aspiring journalists improve, gain exposure, and have access to professionals. There is no catch. Times are tough, and it’s nice to help out.

As for the prizes: it’s not a massive cash prize, of course, but the opportunities offered seem more than worth it.

• A $200 gift certificate to the indie book seller of your choice.

• A guest appearance on Jeff Pearlman’s “Two Writers Slinging Yang” podcast

• A letter of recommendation from the judges.

• A resume consultation session with Chris Stone, sports editor of the Los Angeles Times.

• A clips consultation session with the judge of your choice.

• A phone session with ESPN’s Kenny Mayne on the best ways to break into news/sports television.

• Five autographed books.

Five runner-ups receive one-on-one detailed consultations with one of the judges.

It’s nice to have something positive to write about, and if you’re a student or know one who would be interested, this is the kind of thing that might help fill the current void of, well, everything sports-related.

[The Big Scribble]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.