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Special Project

Special Project
From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

#oneteam Campaign

Entered in Community or Employee Engagement


Last March, we watched the entire world come to a sudden halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the world of sports was no exception. For a business that lives and breathes live action, we had to find a new normal, but our commitment to serve sports fans never wavered. It was time for us to come together — as one team — to help each other in a time of unprecedented need.

The best of sports — resilience, teamwork and unity — was needed more than ever, and ESPN worked with our colleagues, communities, professional sports leagues, advertisers and others across the sports industry to spread messages of safety, of hope and of inspiration through our digital and social platforms in order to reach fans everywhere. Our objectives were threefold:

Strategy and Execution

Information around COVID was new and changing rapidly, so we worked closely with our nonprofit partners to assess their needs and quickly respond. ESPN also understood that the coronavirus created mass disruption of education, and 48 states and four U.S. territories ordered or recommended school building closures for the academic year, affecting at least 50.8 million public school students.

Our partner,, surveyed their membership at the end of March and in early April, to assess the effect of the pandemic. It found that 93% of Gen Z was concerned about COVID-19, with 49% sharing they were very concerned. Young people were sad about missing milestones. 61% expressed heartbreak and disappointment for events and opportunities they had dreamed or prepared for. Young people were looking to engage with brands, and over half (56%) wanted brands to provide resources to make a difference, and 42% wanted brands to provide consumers with volunteer opportunities led by the brand directly.

ESPN’s diverse platforms and programming allows our networks to reach sports fans nationwide, and we worked to deploy a #oneteam strategy that activated the entire business.


Airwaves for Good

Disseminating public health information was critical, so ESPN ran PSAs for the Center for Disease Control, the American Red Cross and Feeding America. We also developed several PSAs featuring ESPN talent to spread messages of unity and hope.

ESPN also launched #SeniorNight with Scott Van Pelt and #HometownHeroes on Golic & Wingo to engage with sports fans, recognize their struggles and highlight their incredible resolve.


Engaging Youth

Given the struggles youth faced and their inherent desire to help, ESPN launched the #oneteam Challenge with to promote togetherness and service through sports-themed challenges, including creating masks, spreading encouragement and keeping kids active.

To give kids some inspiration and optimism, ESPN created the #oneteam Speaker Series with Adrian Wojnarowski and the Boys & Girls Clubs, allowing youth to engage with sports stars.


Employee Enablement

The pandemic created new challenges in keeping our network running, while maintaining safety protocols for employees. More than 255 new home studios were deployed to keep ESPN shows on air and employees safe. And given the inherent culture of service at ESPN, employees were connected with service opportunities and resources so they could give back.  


Understanding that many felt powerless in the days and weeks following the shutdown, the ultimate goal of #oneteam was to spread awareness and empower sports fans to work together as #oneteam to get through these unprecedented times, together, while apart.

Over the course of two-months, nearly 5,000 COVID-related PSAs ran across ESPN’s platforms, resulting in over 100 million impressions. This critical messaging reached sports fans everywhere helping them understand the importance of social distancing, checking in on others and helping the most vulnerable.

Over 35,000 young people took part in the online #oneteam Challenge, making a difference in their communities, thanks to the power of sports. To promote the campaign, ESPN personalities and professional athletes also took part in the challenges, which led to additional participants joining our team. During the six weeks, results included:

Additionally, as part of #oneteam, over 50 engagement projects connected employees virtually with our communities. 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 a number of career panels, mentoring programs and tutoring sessions with local organizations. ESPN also was proud to participate in an HBCU Mentoring Program, which engaged 70 employee volunteers and allowed them to share career advice and perspectives.


Video for #oneteam Campaign

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