Major League Baseball has its share of problems. Critics say the game moves too slowly and the number of franchises that “tank” as a means of future competitiveness has turned off many fans—and, in turn, attendance has been on the decline.
But not all news about baseball is gloomy: The sport itself is a multibillion-dollar juggernaut, and a new generation of stars is giving fans hope from Anaheim to Philadelphia. And in any event, most of worries can be forgotten once you enter (most) of MLB’s 30 jewel-like stadiums.
Furthermore, more players are taking on environmental and social causes. One of them is Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Brent Suter, a sports ambassador for the Outrider Foundation and a sustainability leader within his team’s clubhouse. “Professional athletes have a unique platform to help drive this conversation, and I plan to use mine both as a role model for kids and an example for adults,” Suter wrote in a recent blog post for the Green Sports Alliance, a message he also shared on his Instagram account.
Suter is one of many athletes working with the Green Sports Alliance, an environmentally-focused organization that gathers teams, leagues, athletic venues, corporate partners, governmental agencies, athletes, and fans to promote sustainability and social impact where athletes (and their fans) live and play.
Launched in 2010, the Alliance is seeking to amplify its message as it enters its second decade of work by adding more executive and corporate board leadership to guide the organization. One of those hires is Roger McClendon as the new Executive Director for the group. McClendon’s experience includes serving as Yum! Brands' first chief sustainability officer, as well as having led Blueline, a sustainable design guide for restaurants centered around LEED certification program.
The Alliance works with its stakeholders on a variety of challenges, including sustainable procurement; transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables at athletic venues; encouraging more responsible food choices for both post-game catering and concessions; and adopting zero-waste and water conservation programs.
With ambassadors such as the Brewers’ Suter, the Alliance is at the vanguard of a shift underway across professional sports as more athletes and their teams take on environmental and social causes. Recent trends include international soccer stars highlighting the risks water scarcity poses to their communities; NBA players taking action on a range of issues from education to police brutality; and even offering fans more sustainable food options, from the vegan choices Suter has touted to the Seattle Mariners offering attendees a snack they can’t get enough of—toasted grasshoppers.
Just as the world’s most well-known companies have understood that actions mean more than words, the same goes for professional sports teams and their employees—and Suter and like-minded athletes are responding in kind.
“I’ve found that having a doomsday approach turns guys off,” Suter wrote for the Alliance. “It’s better to take a hopeful tone and urge my teammates to think about helping build a brighter future for their kids and grandkids. Also, like in any situation, I find it effective to communicate by action and not just words.”
Image credit: Brewersfan1061/Wiki Commons
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.