How Pro Sports Can Be a Player in Climate

From stadiums packed with fans, to food, beer, and waste – pro sports can have a big carbon footprint. But could the core values of athletics — integrity, teamwork, and commitment — be the same values we need to tackle the climate challenge? ”Doing sports the right way is more important now than ever,” says Jim Thompson, Founder of the Positive Coaching Alliance. “We spent a lot of time as adults trying to get kids to do certain things. What if we spend our time trying to encourage them to become the kind of people who want to do the right thing?” Thompson, whose PCA trains youth sports coaches around the country, is a newly converted climate evangelist. “Our country, the whole world is gonna need leaders – people who do the right thing when it matters,” he says. “That's my definition of character, when you do the right thing when it matters, and what happens in the next 10 years matters a lot.” So do pro athletes have a special role in getting their fans and teams to talk about climate? “I think somebody needs to prompt the questions out of them, because I don't think most people aren’t going to just come out and just start talking about climate change,” says Dusty Baker, a special advisor with the San Francisco Giants who had a 19-year career as a hard-hitting outfielder and a 20-year career as a big-league manager. Baker, who is also an avid bird hunter and solar power entrepreneur, admires the star athletes who do speak out on climate or other social issues, but he understands why others may be reluctant to do so. “You spend all your life trying to get to this goal” he explains,”and you realize it's a very limited period of time and also there's somebody always trying to take your job.” Ultimately, the best agents for climate action in the sports arena might be the businesses and the customers – that is, teams and their fans. “Through sport and food we have a huge opportunity to influence the world in a positive way,” says Roger McClendon, Executive Director with the Green Sports Alliance, an association of teams and venues employing sports as a vehicle to promote healthy sustainable communities throughout the world. McClendon previously served as the first chief sustainability officer with Yum! Brands, whose holdings include Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC restaurants, where he challenged the company to run cleaner. “[Pro teams] are businesses but they have the responsibility to serve their consumers and their consumers are fans,” he says. “When the fans or the customers start saying this is important to them, then usually businesses start to listen. Guests: Dusty Baker, Special Advisor, San Francisco Giants Roger McClendon, Executive Director, Green Sports Alliance Jim Thompson, Founder, Positive Coaching Alliance. Related links: Positive Coaching Alliance Baker Energy Team Green Sports Alliance NBA Green How climate change is affecting outdoor skating ( San Francisco Giants reclaim the Green Glove Award ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

by Climate One