Law and norms in sustainability developments in the major American sports leagues

Authored by: Matthew T. Bodie , Lucas D. Jackson

Routledge Handbook of Sport and the Environment

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138666153
eBook ISBN: 9781315619514
Adobe ISBN:


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In 2003, the Philadelphia Eagles consulted with the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for assistance in developing a greening program for their newly constructed Lincoln Financial Field (MacMillan, 2016). The two organizations formed a partnership designed to use the NRDC’s environmental expertise in creating a signature sports stadium in one of the nation’s largest cities. The success of this partnership could be considered a watershed moment in the sports world. Once the NRDC saw the success and potential public platform of this partnership, they began to aggressively reach out to other teams, leagues, and venues. This event also led to the foundation of the Green Sports Alliance (GSA), a partnership between the NRDC and various sport leagues, teams, and venues all dedicated to contributing to a greener world. The GSA’s membership has grown to currently include 175 teams, 184 different venues, and 15 different leagues (Green Sports Alliance, 2016). After the 2003 partnership, different sports teams started expressing interest in obtaining a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Between 2008 and 2012, 15 different sports venues received LEED certifications (NRDC Greening Advisor, n.d.). The NRDC has also gone on to start “The NRDC Sports Project,” and in 2010 every major American sports league distributed the project’s informational materials on bringing solar power to stadiums and league members (Macmillan, 2016). The desirability of LEED certification, the influence of the GSA, and the growth of NRDC are all byproducts, whether directly or indirectly, of that original partnership.

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