Sustainability and Sports

By Ian Teñido


More than ever before, the sporting world is growing by leaps and bounds. The sports that had a small fun base and thus drew a small participation are now on the rise thanks to social media advertising and ease of getting information. This does not stop here, the online games have even taken the conventional games to a new level by increasing the number of participants in majority of sports to several hundred folds. The bottom line in the sports is the fact that it requires heavy infrastructure accompanied by huge human presence; these two aspects make sports greatest consumers of natural resources and thus the need to look into how sustainable sports should get has never been timely as it is now.

Good enough is the fact that impact on the environment cuts with both edges; if the sportspersons do not care for the environment, they end up losing the most valuable spaces for exercise and practice. Almost all sportspeople prefer an outdoor environment for their routine exercises but if the environment is dilapidated then they will be forced to practice in a poorly coined outdoor environment or content with indoor practice. Professional sporting has for centuries, since the days of the first marathon and theater days in Athens, exemplified a colossal influence on society. Sports have for decades been associated with social movements, rallying patriotism and mitigating social divides and vices.

To this end, professional sports have an ability to lend a tremendous opportunity for cost savings through energy efficiency. Robert Redford, a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) suggested, in 2004, that sports are the key to extending environmental awareness in the U.S. His statements echo in every forum envisioning a partnership between sports and green initiatives. Actually, only about 13% of the Americans follow science but an amazing 63% or more of Americans follow sports. I personally think that it’s an opportune platform on which sustainability can be launched and advertised.

For the sports that have already realized this end of the bargain, the waste streams are slowly turning into revenue streams. This is because they embrace new sustainability models. For instance, stadiums are now plucking the low-hanging fruit of sustainability by tapping into alternative energy sources such as the solar and wind power. These sources provide efficient lighting and heating for the facilities yet highly recyclable. Such facilities benefit from this by saving their largest overhead costs in electricity. A saving in any operational cost results into a new source of revenue for the sport and thus; greening the sport facilities is likely to rise the sporting revenue far beyond what they get at the moment in total.

The XCel Energy Center; The first first NHL arena in the country to earn LEED for existing buildings, directly impacts 3 million visitors per year.

At the same time, greener venues are irresistibly boosting the bottom line by further growing the revenue and shrinking the costs. Companies and organizations with greener messages are eager and anxious to reach the millions of Americans and loyal sports fans by sponsoring green activities and events in stadia, arenas and race tracks. Therefore, by simply espousing green initiatives, a sport is able to attract likeminded corporations who want to be associated with greener facilities than vice versa. Actually, both the college and professional sports are gradually beginning to mine this new source of revenue for their sports. This new source of corporate financing is likely to power the profits in the sporting world while further advancing the environmental efforts in the long term.

How Green Sport Saves the Planet

In the near future, the greening efforts in the world’s sports are going to be extensive. Definitely, using solar and wind power alongside other clean energies to power the activities of the sports’ facilities result into a tantamount saving from using unclean energy. This benefit draws back to slow the process of climate change and global warming while further making the environment cleaner by reducing the levels of air and land pollution. While data on how green sports have benefited the planet is not concrete, it will not be further from the truth when I state that indeed it will lead to massive savings and thus slow the rate of deterioration we witness today in different parts of the world.

EPA @GreenBiz

Another way that greener sports save the planet is through its undeniable way of creating public awareness. Sports all over the world have billions of fans. In fact, both professional and college sports have enormous power to influence attitudes and behavior of individuals; especially toward the environment. We have seen celebrity sportsmen and women take up initiatives which draw national and international attention and as role models they get their followers to love the environment and do what is right to it. The list of examples in this category is long but Yao Ming will have to serve as a good example. At seven and half feet tall, the NBA star has advocated for the endangered species and not once or twice has he spoken out against the hunting of the sharks for their fins and delicacy in his native China. He has also denounced illegal poaching on several occasions. Ming is a great role model of the Chinese lads and his denouncements and advocacy serve to create awareness about the environment and the need to preserve it.

Lastly, the green sports are likely to transform the transport sector into a greener sector; being the elephant in the room. All kinds of sports use some means of transport to get to the stadium or arenas; airplanes, surface travel and even through water travel. Both the fans and the teams have the capability to push greener innovations in the manufacturing of transport automobiles. Equally, instead of using automobiles, fans and teams that may stay closer to the venues of matches can choose to use sustainable transport like train and public transport instead of personal cars; it could also give them the chance to explore the inner cities and experience what the sport venue’s country has to offer. All these efforts are possible.


Wharton University (2013). Greening the Sports Industry. Retrieved from

Staff, G. (2007). 15 Green Sports Stars. Retrieved from


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