No sport relies on a certain kind of weather more than ice hockey. Winter, after all, is inherent in its very name.
Perhaps that’s part of what led the National Hockey League to issue the first ever sustainability report from a professional sports organization this year. The NHL acknowledged that a great number of its players develop their love for and skills within the sport on freshwater ponds and in cold climates, both of which are increasingly threatened by global warming and other environmental challenges. As such, the organization felt it important to begin recording its efforts at combating climate change; promoting and integrating sustainable practices; and making those efforts available to the general public.
The report is a true landmark for sustainability, given what big business professional sports are these days. They are an enormous and integral part of the world’s culture, uniting different peoples and nations and breaking down cultural, political and geographical borders. For this reason, a green movement in sports represents an enormous opportunity for sustainability to become part of the world’s lexicon and compel each and every fan to do his or her part to ensure the earth’s healthy future.
While such a shift may take a significant amount of time, the report will hopefully have more immediate impacts. For example, the NHL’s effort should serve as model for other professional sports organizations to commit to sustainability, both for purposes of self-preservation and to ensure they keep pace with and honor their fans’ commitment to those same endeavors.
The report did take years to compile, mostly because it was the first of its kind, but the NHL now plans to make it a yearly issuance including standardized reporting protocols for all 30 NHL teams and arenas. This should be welcome news to its 58 million North American fans and it will be exciting to see how it elevates those fans’ expectations to the point where they can compel other organizations toward similar transparency and commitments.
What do you think about the NHL’s commitment to sustainability? It’s certainly an innovative endeavor—do you think other sports leagues will follow suit?