Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 26 No. 202
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Social Studies: Sports World Using Voice To Help During Coronavirus

The sports world came to a halt last week, as every major property pumped the breaks on their ongoing or upcoming seasons due to the coronavirus outbreak. Nights typically filled with games now are silent. But before the pandemic made inroads throughout the U.S., leagues, teams and events could depend upon social media to satiate fans’ hunger for content. What happens, though, when the mechanism that inspires that content stops? College basketball’s conference tournaments had barely begun when it was announced the season was over. Duke men's basketball Creative Dir David Bradley in an email wrote, “Obviously, March Madness is our Super Bowl and we had plans we've been excited about for months. For our players, the Big Dance is something they dreamed about as kids. But, the developments last week in particular quickly put real life in perspective. The NBA shutting down and Rudy Gobert testing positive really hit home with everyone in basketball at all levels. After that, it became so evident that whatever challenges we face from the March Madness cancellation are so incredibly minuscule compared to the challenges for those impacted by this all over the world.” Instead of posts recapping last night’s win or a career milestone, Duke pivoted to providing content that raises awareness of coronavirus. The idea is to try cutting through the misinformation in the ether and provide an uplifting message of support and community.

FINDING THE RIGHT TONE: There is a lot of uncertainty across the board, and that reaches into the sports world. Many organizations still are trying to figure out how best to proceed in a world where the landscape is changing minute to minute. The Rockies bared this truth for all to see on their Twitter feed last week, asking, “What do we do on social media in the days and weeks ahead? What do our fans and followers need from us?” Acknowledging the power of sports to unify, the Rockies strive to be “informative, interesting and entertaining” with their content. They found the strike zone for levity amid all the chaos with an ’08 spot featuring former manager Clint Hurdle questioning former OF Matt Holliday about whether he touched Hurdle’s donut. It ended up being a clever way to promote hand washing.

SOCIAL INFLUENCERS: Even without games, the Penguins are leveraging their social channels to shed light on the ways not only the franchise is helping out in the community, but how its fans can contribute. Dir of New Media Andi Perelman said the Penguins staff is working together via WebEx to be a "positive force in our community.” She wrote, “Our words and actions make a big impact. We’ve put out press releases about paying our arena/service employees for missed games, donating perishable foods from PPG Paints Arena, and we are collaborating with some of the players on statement videos encouraging fans to stay safe and stay positive.”