oneteam espn

ESPN’s #oneteam Spirit Drives Social Impact 

Marsha EmpringhamOn the night of March 11, 2020, the sports world watched the NBA abruptly suspend their season following a positive COVID-19 result from an NBA player. The next day arenas went dark. Our beloved teams stopped playing and sports came to a grinding halt. For a business that lives and breathes live action, ESPN quickly felt the stunning void, and as a company we had to find a new normal, so we could continue to stand by our mission, “To serve sports fans. Anytime. Anywhere.” 

Sports has a powerful ability to spark national conversations, and ESPN demonstrated that it could pivot and develop a strategy to use its airwaves for good and continue to uphold our commitment to serve sports fans. As the pandemic took hold, disseminating public health information was critical to that strategy, and we wanted to show that the values of sports — teamwork, resilience and unity — were still needed. ESPN also worked with our colleagues, communities, professional sports leagues, advertisers and the sports industry to identify the greatest needs that suddenly needed to be addressed, while spreading messages of safety, of hope and of inspiration through our platforms and during key programming. It was then that ESPN’s #oneteam was born. 

Serving sports fans and the places where we live, work and play are a big part of ESPN’s culture and its commitment to service. To keep our employees connected and give them a sense of belonging as they adjusted to working from home, ESPN worked to connect our employees with virtual volunteer opportunities and resources so they could safely give back and feel a sense of connection to our organization while away from their offices. These projects included several drives, where more than 500 essential food and hygiene items were collected, as well as a school supply drive, where over 1,400 items to under-resourced schools. Our volunteers also participated in career panels, mentoring programs and tutoring sessions with local organizations. ESPN also participated in an HBCU Mentoring Program, which engaged 70 employee volunteers and allowed them to share career advice and perspectives. 

Currently, many of ESPN’s employees are still working remotely, and ESPN has found that virtual volunteer engagements and services allow employees to find a sense of connection with our colleagues and the company. These opportunities also allow employees to connect with employees who are based in ESPN’s remote offices. As we look forward, ESPN will continue to offer virtual volunteer services to its employees, which will expand our services to the most vulnerable, including mentorships with pediatric patients at children’s hospitals. 

ESPN was proud to take another step in the fight against COVID-19 this past spring when the company opened its doors of its North Campus in Bristol, Connecticut to create a vaccination center. To ensure employees were up to date on vaccination sign ups, the company decimated messages instructing eligible staff members how they can sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine and the steps they needed to take to receive their shots. Employees took great pride knowing that their company partnered with a local clinic to inoculate their colleagues and neighbors.  

Because of ESPN’s commitment to serving youth, ESPN launched the #oneteam Challenge with in recognition of the struggles that youth were suddenly facing and their inherent desire to help. The program promoted togetherness and service through sports-themed challenges, like committing to civic engagement. The six-week challenge saw over 35,000 youth participating in the #oneteam Challenge. Results included: 

9,880 masks made 

1,042 signs for essential workers created 

906 awards shared for graduating seniors 

1,757 workouts completed 

 As part of its commitment to serve young sports fans, ESPN also created the #oneteam Speaker Series with ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski and the Boys & Girls Clubs to allow kids the opportunity to engage with sports stars. The series would virtually meet with chapters across the country, and the panels would then be shared on YouTube and across social media to reach youth from all over. 

oneteam espn

ESPN ran PSAs for the CDC, the American Red Cross and Feeding America across our platforms. We also took great pride in developing our own PSAs to spread messaging on unity to help the community at large and worked with advertisers to donate their airtime. In two months, nearly 5,000 COVID-related PSAs ran across ESPN’s networks, resulting in over 100 million impressions.  

ESPN is continuing its #oneteam efforts and spreading public health information and messages. A new PSA debuted in March as part of The Walt Disney Companys commitment to the COVID-19 Education Initiative, “It’s Up to You.” The platform – created by the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative in partnership with the CDC – represents one of the largest public education efforts in U.S. history. Ad Council found that approximately 40% of the public have not decided if they will get vaccinated. There is also the need to reach communities of color who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and distrust the government and medical community, creating high hesitancy toward the vaccines. The PSA ran across ESPN’s platforms in English and Spanish, urging audiences to visit and to learn more. 



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