By: Sab Singh
More than seven years ago, I wrote two articles for SportsBusiness Journal that were published within 5 months of each other. They dealt with the areas of sport and social responsibility and social entrepreneurship. The feedback was very positive and I was encouraged by many to start a blog on those topics. The thing was, at the time, I was not a fan of blogs and questioned their value when it came to being a forum for intelligent information exchange. Well, I was wrong.
Blogs, and since then, Facebook and Twitter, have become forums for information sharing, allowing organizations big and small to leverage the ease of use and the low-cost properties associated with social media to engage with their respective stakeholders, e.g. fans, customers, business partners.
Over the past five years via our blog and newsletter Sports Doing Good, we have featured more than 3,000 sports-related stories dealing with: inspirational athletes, charity/philanthropy; partnerships between sport and nonprofits, great game performances; game-changing youth development initiatives; and organizations and events that encourage such activity and then recognize the best of the bunch. Our goal from the beginning was to aggregate the stories and then get them out to a larger audience. The potential impact of these activities on the general public was and is mainly limited by their reach into the mind and hearts of those inside and outside of sport.
With increased social media usage across the board comes increased responsibility and expectations. At least it should. However, in many instances we have individuals and organizations at all levels using social media and even more traditional platforms to just recycle news and analysis (do we really need 10 individuals analyzing throughout the day the play of a college team’s offensive line?), and even worse, to advance misinformation and negative content. Instead of elevating the numerous positive elements of sport, we are subject to just the opposite. Well, it doesn’t need to be and those in sports can take responsibility for changing the course we are on.
Thankfully we have found a cohort of like-minded individuals and groups advancing such positive activity, some of whom are already known to some in the U.S. sports industry but who could use some more recognition. They include:
Beyond Sport (www.beyondsport.org)
Sport and Dev (www.sportanddev.org)
Peace and Sport (www.peace-sport.org)
Up2Us Sports (www.up2ussports.org)
Green Sports Alliance (www.greensportsalliance.org)
The Players’ Tribune (www.theplayerstribune.com)
Sports and Social Change (www.sportsandsocialchange.org)
National Alliance for Youth Sports (www.nays.org)
These organizations complement the established sports content leaders such as ESPN and Sports Illustrated, regular providers of strong content such as the New York Times and GOOD magazine, and newer entities such as The Undefeated. But we encourage them to do even more. We also encourage SBJ and SBD to continue to feature stories that speak to the larger advancement of sport as an industry and source of social change and to include at least one panel at each of its conferences that speaks to this important part of the industry.
In 2017, the theme at Sports Doing Good is #changetheconversation. In actuality, that theme has been at the foundation of the platform since we started. Five years ago, we were inundated with stories about negative activity in sports, e.g. arrests, drug violations, fan misbehavior, unsportsmanlike conduct on the field, threats of team relocation, etc. No surprise that those things continue in varying degrees. Our goal and our plea to you is to balance what is out there with stories that the sports industry and the general public will readily accept, i.e. good news. The readers of SBJ and SBD are the very people making many positive things happen in the industry. But more can and should be done. Let’s get started and #changetheconversation.
Sarbjit “Sab” Singh is an assistant professor of sport management at Farmingdale State College (NY) and the publisher of Sports Doing Good.