5 Most Ethical Sports Franchises

Today’s sports fans don’t just want their favorite teams to win. They want them to do their part for their planet and its people, too. The good news? It’s a win-win. The more fans demand of sports franchises, the more they deliver with much-needed corporate social responsibility efforts.

Want to cheer on the franchises that are getting it right? Read on for a roundup of five of sports franchises that are winning at CSR.

1. The Atlanta Falcons

With the 2017 debut of its Mercedes-Benz Stadium, this football franchise showcased its ongoing commitment to innovation and sustainability. Not only were many environmentally kind features built into the stadium’s design, but the stadium is conveniently located near a public transportation hub and even has its own bike valet program.

These initiatives were enough to earn the Falcons the top spot on 24/7 Wall St.’s ranking of the NFL’s most eco-friendly teams in a five-way tie with the Baltimore Ravens, the Chicago Bears, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the San Francisco 49ers.

2. The Milwaukee Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks aren’t just killing it on the court. The professional baseball franchise is also killing it when it comes to corporate social responsibility.

According to Arvind Gopalrantnam, the team’s Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility and the NBA’s only South Asian holding this role, the franchise has committed itself to social justice and racial equity through everything from visiting the local correctional facility to advocating for voting rights changes with the ACLU.

“We’re super passionate about being agents of change, and the work we’re going to continue to do in social justice is what excites me,” said Gopalrantnam.

Even individual players like Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday have launched their own ethical initiatives, such as giving out winter coats at a local elementary school and starting a fund supporting Black-owned businesses.

3. The Forest Green Rovers

With a name like the “Forest Green Rovers,” it’s hardly surprising that this professional soccer club was recently heralded by FIFA as “the world’s greenest football club.” 

Kits made from recycled coffee bean waste, all-vegan match day foods, an organic pitch, and renewable power are just a few of the initiatives implemented by the club’s owner, “green energy” entrepreneur Dale Vince.

More eco-friendly projects are in the works, including an eclectic team bus and an eco-friendly all-wooden stadium.

4. The Philadelphia Phillies

Alongside fellow Philadelphia team, the Eagles, this MLB team is celebrated for its work on behalf of social responsibility and sustainability with a breadth and depth of programs aimed at giving back.

Through year-round community relations efforts, the Eagles support hundreds of Philadelphia area non-profits. Meanwhile, the Eagles Charitable Foundation has made significant contributions to everything from children’s eye care to autism research.

Another vital cause championed by the Eagles? Ending gun violence.

5. The Seattle Kraken

Ice rinks and climate change don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. However, the National Hockey League has stepped up its efforts on behalf of the urgent issue with the NHL Green Initiative. At the front of the pack? The Seattle Kraken.

Last fall, the ice hockey franchise opened its carbon-neutral Climate Pledge Arena, which features a host of eco-friendly features, including solar panels, electric stoves, and an entirely electric dehumidification system.

Meanwhile, the franchise has also committed itself to rejecting green washing. All single-use plastics are banned inside the stadium, which uses an ingenious “rain to rink” system to turn rainwater into home ice.

The team will also conduct “detailed carbon accounting” to hold themselves accountable and ensure that its efforts are working.