by Adarsh Patil

Why Sporting needs to be Sustainable

That sporting adds to physical and mental well-being is clear and ...
Why Sporting needs to be Sustainable

That sporting adds to physical and mental well-being is clear and obvious; there is an added advantage in sporting, which is about communities coming together. More than anything else, international sporting events are massive community outreach, community building, and programs where people are interested in something other than themselves. The sheer amount of resources that are put together and the number of stakeholders involved in crystallizing these events and bringing them to the living rooms of millions of interested fans are enormous and these are international players, clubs, media, hospitality partners, marketing partners, hosting partners, spectators, and even governments. 

Now, why do we think sporting needs to be sustainable? One because it is too huge and influential to be ignored. In  2020, the global sports equipment and apparel market was valued at $340.6 billion. It is projected to reach $930.5 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 8.31% from 2022 to 2031.

In the recent 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar reportedly spent more than $200 billion on World Cup infrastructure, 16 times more than the last world cup held in Russia. 

Regarding revenue streams, a staggering USD 4,666 million is budgeted from five core categories: 56% from TV broadcasting rights, 29% from marketing rights, and the remaining 15% from hospitality rights, ticket sales, licensing rights, and other revenues. 

Such mega-events often end up in the over-consumption of resources which, most of the time, are not noticed by many. While the fun and frenzy can remain, there can be some means to utilize environmentally friendly alternatives to reduce the negative impact of such ultra-mega sporting events. Initiatives such as banning single-use plastic during the whole event, promoting natural or recycled materials-based sportswear, and adopting a proper waste management system are examples that can be executed to create mass awareness and a larger impact to save our environment.

Noticeably at some of the sporting events following sustainability initiatives were taken:

  • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has pledged to eliminate single-use plastic at its headquarters, the Olympic Museum, and all of its events.
  • In Major League Soccer (MLS), the US football league's teams honored Earth Day by wearing jerseys created from ocean garbage.
  • In Bangalore, India, the cricket stadium Chinnaswamy has introduced a zero trash policy for its spectators during the Indian Premier League (IPL).
  • A deposit and return system for beverages was instituted at Twickenham Stadium to show commitment to sustainability.

Unmoda’s parent company, NC John, had manufactured sustainable T-shirts made from recycled PET bottles for the 2020 Australian Open. Read more here.

Global sports equipment manufacturers such as Patagonia, Lily Lotus, Adidas and The North Face have joined the sustainable sports movement by introducing articles made from recyclable materials and natural fibers. Not only that, but these sustainable sports articles are also certified by international bodies such as GOTS, WRAP, and Fair Trade, which also monitor the employees' working conditions and the quality of raw materials.


The second big reason sports needs to be sustainable is the sheer influence of sport. Imagine all cricket matches and football and Olympics being net zero events; how much impact it can have on Sports fans and megastars in terms of public sentiment shifting towards sustainability and making Sustainability cool for others to follow. 

A well-sustainably planned and executed sporting event can create many direct and indirect benefits to the planet and society.