Sustainability in Sports Means More Than You Think

sustainability in sports
Sustainable stadium projects have garnered headlines in recent years, but sustainability in sports means more than just "green" projects.
There are certain terms in the English language that find themselves suddenly slammed into everyday lexicon, destined to take hold for a moment in time, then eventually peter out and lose impact.

Words like narrative, optics and metrics somehow end up on heavy conversational rotation.

These once juicy constructs become so overused they are now non-descript and ubiquitous churning out eye rolls from listeners more often than they garner respect for their proper usage.

Sustainability is a word on that same path, having become the buzzword of all buzzwords as a greater number of people craft their social consciousness and wake up to the growing concern for the health of our planet.

Let’s rescue this word from the grasps of fatigue - it deserves to be saved.

Bigger Than Just Green

Contrary to current events, the word sustainability isn’t owned by the green movement, it’s historically a business term used to define the “triple-bottom line” a process which companies use to manage their financial, social and environmental risks, obligations and opportunities.

Or to make it less like I copied that out of a business textbook we’re talking about an emphasis on sustainability in economic, human and environmental components.

The sports industry is huge business, bringing in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue globally and growing. But until recently there hasn’t been a deep focus on the broad reach of sustainability in sports education.

“We are unique because we offer in-depth coursework in all three sustainability issues,” states Dr. Maylon Hanold, Instructor and Associate Director of the Masters in Sports Administration and Leadership at Seattle University. “At Seattle U we strive to be leading edge, our focus on teaching sustainability across economic, social and environment issues is a critical piece of that.”

In the sports world we’ve witnessed the growing emphasis on environmental sustainability over the last decade as organizations from NASCAR to MLS to the NFL focus efforts on working in concert with the planet, rather than in opposition. But to find true success in the highly competitive sports industry, being anchored in the other two components of sustainability, business and human, is instrumental.

“The world is getting more chaotic and diverse, our curriculum strives to develop leaders to help navigate this changing world,” adds Dr. Hanold. “Sports organizations have to deal with diverse perspectives, in order to be both competitive and make sports a better place for all individuals. You have to be able to look at it critically to solve the complex problems at the intersection of human and business aspects. We help ground our students and develop leaders in critical thinking into the human side of sports.

“Our business courses cover finance, sponsorship, marketing, consumer behavior - but we are very unique in that we also strive to push people towards the broader sustainability concepts as they apply to economics and ethics.”how to prepare for your sports job search ebook

Seattle University’s emphasis on the three components of sustainability has hit the mark with employers, 90% of graduates have found full-time employment within 6 months of graduation, while 40% are placed before they graduate. Alumni are currently hard at work with local and national organization including the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders, Nike, Seattle Storm, Brooks Sport, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Lightning, Special Olympics Washington and the University of Washington Athletic Department.

In addition to the Master’s program in Sports Administration and Leadership, Seattle University also offers the only Certificate in Sport Sustainability Leadership in the world, where students dive deeper into the environmental component of sustainability, addressing the global concern for increased environmental and ecological sustainability in the sport industry.

“This is a gritty, academically rigorous program that requires students willing to be pushed and challenged in their thinking. Our students come out a changed person, never able to see sports the same way from a business, human or environmental perspective.

“It’s a leading edge curriculum, and a transformational type of education”

For more information on the Seattle University Masters in Sports Administration and Leadership, visit their website here.
By Brian Clapp | January 11, 2017
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