Houston Professional Sport Team Response to Hurricane Harvey:

A Twitter Content Analysis


  • Chris Hanna Georgia Southern University
  • Robert Thompson Georgia Southern University
  • James Morton Utah State University


Houston, natural disaster, crisis communication, hurricane, professional sports


Hurricane Harvey killed 68 people including 36 from the Houston metro area primarily due to flooding caused by the heavy rainfall that accompanied the hurricane (Whittal, 2018).  Hurricane Harvey provided the most rainfall of any tropical system as it pounded Texas and Louisiana communities and did $125 billion in damage, which would tie Katrina as America’s costliest cyclone (Whittal, 2018).  This study provides a Twitter content analysis that examined tweets from Houston’s six professional sport teams to see how they handled communicating with fans before, during and after the impact of Hurricane Harvey.  Previous studies have documented the importance of team involvement in disaster recovery—with teams providing emotional and social well-being benefits (Inoue, et al., 2015) as well as informational benefits (Devine, et al., 2017).  Bonding and information proved to be the most commonly utilized codes among the six professional teams.  The Houston professional sport team tweets focused more strongly on emotional support codes than tangible support codes as described in Inoue & Havard (2015). 


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