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Danielle K. Smith and Jonathan Casper

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.

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Nels Popp, James Du, Stephen L. Shapiro, and Jason M. Simmons

between social sentiment polarity score and season ticket sales was corroborated by an upward trend, as visualized in Figure  4 . Finally, concerning the effects of the included control variables, the findings of the third panel model specification validated the average game attendance from the previous

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jay johnson and Adam Ehsan Ali

individual from conditions of supposed enclosure… in this way, conservative economic policies are often articulated through less conservative social sentiments” ( 2011 , p. 484). That is, within a regime focused on the market and capitalism, an issue like environmental health, which in the past would be