Research Topic

Social Responsibility In and Through Sport: Emerging Trends and Perspectives

About this Research Topic

Social Responsibility in sport has become a ubiquitous concern in both the academic and professional domains. The field of sport and social responsibility has evolved and matured as a legitimate organizational function and has been given increased focus and attention in particular given recent social, political, environmental, economic, and cultural events, for example related to climate change (e.g., fires in Australia and California), the COVID-19 global pandemic, and the ‘Me Too’ and social justice movements. Sport organizations across the globe have responded to these external forces through a range of efforts including increased and targeted charitable giving, new program design and implementation, changes to organizational policy, advocacy and activism, strategic marketing and communication, and the creation of new strategic partnerships. What’s more, an increasing number of firms that exist and operate outside or in parallel to the sport industry have started manifesting their social responsibility through sport. This often occurs by innovative approaches that foster social entrepreneurship at local, national and international levels.
With objectives to create ‘shared value’ (creating both economic and social value) through more strategic approaches to social responsibility and impact, sport organizations have responded with varying levels of success – for both the organization and society. To maximize their positive impact in both domains, sport organizations must develop coherent social responsibility strategies.

Sport management research has advanced understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) both conceptually and theoretically and novel sport-based insights regarding CSR have emerged including around motivations driving socially focused efforts, varied stakeholder perspectives uncovering attitudes and expectations regarding CSR, as well as the governance and management of these initiatives. However, key questions and areas of social responsibility still remain underexplored in the sport context and there are still significant gaps in the literature that have limited our understanding of the role, positioning, and effects of social responsibility in the sport context. This Research Topic aims to extend the current framing and focus of sport and CSR, to include broader conceptualizations of social impact activities and efforts such as social innovation and entrepreneurship, advocacy and social activism, diversity, equity and inclusion, philanthropy, and corporate social justice. Many questions remain regarding how sport organizations integrate, evolve, resist or adapt to external environmental forces and how responses vary across settings.
Against all this, the aim of this Research Topic is to promote, advance, and profile cutting-edge research in the area of sport and social impact by examining under-studied areas. The purpose is to extend and develop deeper insights into the current role of social responsibility in and through sport from multi-level, multi-theoretical, and multi-context perspectives. We invite papers which elicit emerging and innovative perspectives on sport and social responsibility that have yet to be explored and have relevance in today’s changing and turbulent environment. We seek to build knowledge around the question of what factors contribute to broader organizational social impact in sport, and how organizations strategically respond to these challenges.

This Research Topic aims to curate a collection of articles (Original Research, Case Reports, Reviews, General Commentaries AND Perspectives) that will advance knowledge about the evolving social impact of sport organizations of all types and forms. Topics of interest may include – but are not limited to - studies exploring diverse issues related to social responsibility in and through sport such as:
• Sport and social innovation and entrepreneurship
• Athlete activism and philanthropy
• Community benefits agreements and community stewardship
• Evaluating and measuring social impact
• Corporate social justice and sport organizations
• Philanthropy and charity – teams, leagues, athletes
• Leadership, organizational culture, and decision-making for social impact
• Social impact partnerships and collaboration
• The intersection of governance and social responsibility in sport
• The role of data and analytics in social impact initiatives
• Social responsibility and the use of emerging technology
• Stakeholder influence in social responsibility
• Strategic communication and messaging of social responsibility
• Scandal, transgressions, and social responsibility
• Social responsibility of non-profit organizations
• Environmental sustainability programs and policies / Incorporating United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals in sport organizations
• Social responsibility in new / understudied contexts – esport, women’s sport, global sport / developing countries


Keywords: Sport, Social responsibility, Social impact, Corporate community stewardship, Philanthropy, Sustainability


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Social Responsibility in sport has become a ubiquitous concern in both the academic and professional domains. The field of sport and social responsibility has evolved and matured as a legitimate organizational function and has been given increased focus and attention in particular given recent social, political, environmental, economic, and cultural events, for example related to climate change (e.g., fires in Australia and California), the COVID-19 global pandemic, and the ‘Me Too’ and social justice movements. Sport organizations across the globe have responded to these external forces through a range of efforts including increased and targeted charitable giving, new program design and implementation, changes to organizational policy, advocacy and activism, strategic marketing and communication, and the creation of new strategic partnerships. What’s more, an increasing number of firms that exist and operate outside or in parallel to the sport industry have started manifesting their social responsibility through sport. This often occurs by innovative approaches that foster social entrepreneurship at local, national and international levels.
With objectives to create ‘shared value’ (creating both economic and social value) through more strategic approaches to social responsibility and impact, sport organizations have responded with varying levels of success – for both the organization and society. To maximize their positive impact in both domains, sport organizations must develop coherent social responsibility strategies.

Sport management research has advanced understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) both conceptually and theoretically and novel sport-based insights regarding CSR have emerged including around motivations driving socially focused efforts, varied stakeholder perspectives uncovering attitudes and expectations regarding CSR, as well as the governance and management of these initiatives. However, key questions and areas of social responsibility still remain underexplored in the sport context and there are still significant gaps in the literature that have limited our understanding of the role, positioning, and effects of social responsibility in the sport context. This Research Topic aims to extend the current framing and focus of sport and CSR, to include broader conceptualizations of social impact activities and efforts such as social innovation and entrepreneurship, advocacy and social activism, diversity, equity and inclusion, philanthropy, and corporate social justice. Many questions remain regarding how sport organizations integrate, evolve, resist or adapt to external environmental forces and how responses vary across settings.
Against all this, the aim of this Research Topic is to promote, advance, and profile cutting-edge research in the area of sport and social impact by examining under-studied areas. The purpose is to extend and develop deeper insights into the current role of social responsibility in and through sport from multi-level, multi-theoretical, and multi-context perspectives. We invite papers which elicit emerging and innovative perspectives on sport and social responsibility that have yet to be explored and have relevance in today’s changing and turbulent environment. We seek to build knowledge around the question of what factors contribute to broader organizational social impact in sport, and how organizations strategically respond to these challenges.

This Research Topic aims to curate a collection of articles (Original Research, Case Reports, Reviews, General Commentaries AND Perspectives) that will advance knowledge about the evolving social impact of sport organizations of all types and forms. Topics of interest may include – but are not limited to - studies exploring diverse issues related to social responsibility in and through sport such as:
• Sport and social innovation and entrepreneurship
• Athlete activism and philanthropy
• Community benefits agreements and community stewardship
• Evaluating and measuring social impact
• Corporate social justice and sport organizations
• Philanthropy and charity – teams, leagues, athletes
• Leadership, organizational culture, and decision-making for social impact
• Social impact partnerships and collaboration
• The intersection of governance and social responsibility in sport
• The role of data and analytics in social impact initiatives
• Social responsibility and the use of emerging technology
• Stakeholder influence in social responsibility
• Strategic communication and messaging of social responsibility
• Scandal, transgressions, and social responsibility
• Social responsibility of non-profit organizations
• Environmental sustainability programs and policies / Incorporating United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals in sport organizations
• Social responsibility in new / understudied contexts – esport, women’s sport, global sport / developing countries


Keywords: Sport, Social responsibility, Social impact, Corporate community stewardship, Philanthropy, Sustainability


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

29 January 2021 Abstract
31 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

29 January 2021 Abstract
31 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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