“To Build a More Just Society”: Women’s National Basketball Association Teams’ Uses of Social Media for Advocacy

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Dunja Antunovic School of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

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Ann Pegoraro Lang School of Business, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada

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Ceyda Mumcu Department of Sport Management, University of New Haven, West Haven, CT, USA

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Kimberly Soltis School of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

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Nancy Lough Sport Research and Innovation, University of Nevada—Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV, USA

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Katie Lebel Lang School of Business, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada

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Nicole M. LaVoi School of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

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Sports brands and properties are using social media platforms to take a stand on controversial social issues. This paper draws on the concept of corporate social advocacy to examine how Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) teams used their social media platforms to communicate about social issues during the 2021 season. We conducted a thematic and semantic analysis of advocacy-related tweets to examine the communicative actions and salient issues across the teams’ accounts. WNBA teams posted about racial justice, women’s empowerment, and LGBTQ+ rights, which represent a shift in the WNBA’s discursive promotional strategies. The findings of the study indicate that WNBA teams’ use of social media to take a stand on social issues aligns with, and extends, conceptualizations of corporate social advocacy. Further, social media advocacy provides insight into the sociocultural significance and the economic viability of women’s sport.

Women’s National Basketball Association teams used social media platforms for advocacy during the 2021 season.

Social media posts focused on community outreach initiatives, game-day promotions, and amplification of stakeholders’ voices through retweets.

Women’s National Basketball Association teams posted primarily about racial justice, women’s empowerment, and LGBTQ+ rights.

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