Making an Impact: An Initial Review of U.S. Sport League Corporate Social Responsibility Responses During COVID-19

in International Journal of Sport Communication
View More View Less
  • 1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 2 North Carolina State University
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year online subscription

USD  $64.00

1 year online subscription

USD  $86.00

Student 2 year online subscription

USD  $122.00

2 year online subscription

USD  $162.00

COVID-19 has brought about an unprecedented time where a majority of major American sporting organizations have ceased competition. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) actions, historically an avenue for sport organizations to positively impact society, provide a compelling avenue of study during this time. While researchers have observed the role of CSR and crisis communication when the crisis arises from within the organization, there is a need to understand CSR shifts and responses when the crisis is on a societal level. This commentary examines efforts of major U.S. sport league CSR programs (National Basketball Association/Women's National Basketball Association, National Football League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, and National Hockey League), starting in mid-March when the majority of organizations ceased competition. Data were gathered using a mixed-methods approach of qualitative interviews, secondary research, and social media sentiment analysis. Key findings included the emergence of two different approaches to CSR communication strategies among U.S. sport leagues as well as three clear themes of COVID-19-related communication: educate, assist, and inspire. In addition, this commentary provides an initial glance at consumer response to CSR programs, showing both positive and negative sentiment trends.

Smith is with the University of the North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Casper is with the North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA.

Smith (daniellesmith@unc.edu) is corresponding author.
  • Babiak, K., & Wolfe, R. (2009). Determinants of corporate social responsibility in professional sport: Internal and external factors. Journal of Sport Management, 23(6), 717742. doi:10.1123/jsm.23.6.717

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coombs, W.T., & Holladay, S.J. (2002). Helping crisis managers protect reputational assets: Initial tests of the situational crisis communication theory. Management Communication Quarterly, 16(2), 165186. doi:10.1177/089331802237233

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Crimson Hexagon ForSight. (2020). Brandwatch. www.brandwatch.com

  • Gratch, J., Lucas, G., Malandrakis, N., Szablowski, E., Fessler, E., & Nichols, J. (2015). GOAALLL!: Using sentiment in the world cup to explore theories of emotion. Paper presented at the 2015 International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction (ACII) (pp. 898903). doi:10.1109/acii.2015.7344681

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kern, W.S. (2000). Introduction. In W.S. Kern (Ed.), The economics of sports (pp. 16). Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research for Employment Research. doi:10.17848/9780880993968.intro

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Major League Soccer. (2020, May). MLS Unites: Bringing the soccer community together during COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.mlssoccer.com/mls-unites

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moran, E. (2020, April 6). NHL And MLB bringing STEM to homes of young fans. Front Office Sports. Retrieved from https://frntofficesport.com/nhl-mlb-stem-education/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • National Football League. (2020, May). NFL Draft-a-thon. https://relief.nfl.com/

  • Stanley, M. (2020, May 9). Why the increase in domestic violence during COVID-19? Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/making-sense-chaos/202005/why-the-increase-in-domestic-violence-during-covid-19

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wakefield, K.L., & Wann, D.L. (2006). An examination of dysfunctional sport fans: Method of classification and relationships with problem behaviors. Journal of Leisure Research, 38(2), 168186. doi:10.1080/00222216.2006.11950074

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, Z., & Surujlal, J. (2015). Willingness of sport fans to participate in socially responsible community programmes of professional sport organisations. South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation, 37(3), 185197.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 1 1 0
Full Text Views 634 634 185
PDF Downloads 280 280 70