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Christie M. Kleinmann

Sports public relations has long been used to promote the big game and highlight key players. Then, the coronavirus crisis halted sports, and the constant stream of public relations content fell silent. There was no game to hype, no sports moment to celebrate. This essay is about the public relations lessons learned during the pandemic. It discusses how sports public relations prior to COVID-19 often valued relational breadth over depth. As a result, sports public relations operated at a superficial level of momentary engagements sustained by creative content rather than the deeper relational connections that public relations purport. The essay then illustrates how COVID-19 cultivated opportunities for relational breadth and depth to grow between players and fans. Finally, the essay questions if we really want sports public relations to return to normal or if sports public relations professionals should incorporate these lessons into sustainable, postpandemic public relations practice.