Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 6-11-2021


Purpose – This investigation’s purpose is to compare coverage of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) behaviors of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and Major League Soccer (MLS). The goals are (1) to extend CSR analyses beyond organizational reports and (2) to compare coverage of professional sports teams’ CSR behaviors across genders.

Design/methodology/approach – Specifically, this quantitative content analysis compared local newspaper coverage of the socially responsible behaviors of the three NWSL and MLS teams owned and operated by the same organizations in Portland, Houston and Orlando.

Findings – The NWSL teams received significantly less and more negative coverage than the MLS teams. Moreover, the NWSL coverage was more individualistic, more focused on ethics and quoted individual team players more frequently, while the MLS coverage was more collective, focused on philanthropy and quoted team organization members more frequently.

Research limitations/implications – Although intentionally based on a sample of six teams, this study’s results suggest the biases in coverage of women’s sports teams extend beyond the playing field to their corporate social responsibility behaviors, reporting and news coverage.

Originality/value – As one of the first studies to analyze media coverage of professional sports team’s CSR activities and to compare their socially responsible behaviors across genders, the results provide compelling implications for CSR scholars and practitioners, especially in the sports industry.

Publication Title

Corporate Communications: An International Journal