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

Dunja Antunovic, Ann Pegoraro, Ceyda Mumcu, Kimberly Soltis, Nancy Lough, Katie Lebel, and Nicole M. LaVoi

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.