Rural community well-being through minor league sport

Young Do Kim (Department of Sport Management, Elon University, Elon, North Carolina, USA)
Marshall J. Magnusen (Educational Leadership, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA)
Anthony Weaver (Department of Sport Management, Elon University, Elon, North Carolina, USA)
Minjung Kim (University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, USA)

Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal

ISSN: 2042-678X

Publication date: 25 July 2019



The purpose of this paper is to investigate how small-town residents’ perceptions of a minor league sport team’s socially responsible initiatives (SRI) influence several psychological responses to SRI, including feelings of gratitude, subjective well-being, place attachment and community pride.


A cross-sectional, survey-based research design was employed to empirically assess the effects of SRI on positive psychological responses in the context of a minor league sport team located in a rural community. The data set used in this study included a convenience sample of 307 small-town residents.


Residents of the rural community did perceive and feel grateful for their minor league sport team’s SRI. Grateful residents experienced higher levels of subjective well-being (happiness, pleasure and satisfaction) as well as enhanced community pride and attachment due to the local sport team’s altruistic and prosocial behaviors.

Research limitations/implications

This study’s findings shed light on a critical function and benefit of a minor league sport team in rural communities. Emotionally valued prosocial efforts enhance the well-being of residents in rural communities. Thus, a reasonable course of action for local community leaders and public-sector organizations is to invest in and create partnership opportunities with their local minor league sport teams. Such efforts can turn sport teams into leverageable assets that can help promote healthy and sustainable communities for current residents as well as future generations.


A contribution of this study is the integration of the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions to better understand how gratitude mediates the relationship between SRI and beneficial community-focused outcomes such as pride, attachment and well-being.



Kim, Y., Magnusen, M., Weaver, A. and Kim, M. (2019), "Rural community well-being through minor league sport", Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

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