The Sustainability Policy of Major League Baseball (Mlb)
Major League Baseball, also known as MLB, is among the oldest professional baseballs played mostly in the US and Canada. The MLB covers main players and clubs including the 15 participants from the American League (AL), and 15 participants from the National League (NL) (Idowu & Louche 2011). With a total of 30 players, 15 players in each of the teams, MLB has been able to operate as a separate legal entity since the establishment of AL in 1901 and NL in 1876. Later in 2000, AL and NL came into a consensus based on the established facts of common social interest, and merged to form a single organization whose activities are facilitated by the Commission of Baseball (Karake 1999).
The two major teams and the other 240 leagues supported by the Commission of Baseball fall under the Major League Baseball and share on common social and communal objectives. Under the MLB umbrella, there has been progress on the way baseball game is played not only in US and Canada, but also in other parts of the world. The understanding of MLB and its activities is closely related to clean environmental initiatives like the use of green energy, waste recycling, and water bill control (Karake 1999). Other initiatives as outlined in MLB’s sustainability policy include cost reduction through the use of alternative sources of energy and increased benefits to sponsors, players, employees, and respective societies. In relation to the theory of Triple Bottom Line (TBL), this paper discusses MLB’s sustainability policy and issues relating to economic and social advancements.
The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) Theory
Under CSR, the theory of TBL demands that corporate leaders and professional organizations be in a position to determine bottom-line results both in economic terms and in terms of the impact on social realms (Major League Baseball 2015). The TBL concepts are based on the notion of the cost-revenue relationships of a social event and the impact on the general environment. With the focus on separate social responsibilities and independently reported results, there are higher possibilities that stakeholders will obtain sustainable results from each of the organizational activities. At this level, the notion of sustainability is very specific to the actions of stakeholders or policy makers within the organization (Mullerat 2010). For example, at the intersection of social ethics and economic motive, an organization could be focusing on long-term maintenance of sustainable balance between social needs and economic values accruing to employees and shareholders in the organization.
As elaborated, Triple Bottom Line is one of the leading theories used by individuals, businesses and policy makers in the establishment of sustainability policy. Through the TBL concepts, an organization is able to be socially responsible, a commitment that helps to spur numerous projects as a way of giving back to the society or rather appreciating the long term relationship between the business and the community it serves. The justification for TBL theory and its major concepts are based on the definition and ability to achieve economic, social and environmental balance, and for an organization that aims at creating value in its operations, these concepts are fundamental towards improving societal welfare.
Justification for TBL theory
As already mentioned, organizations’ areas of focus through the application of TBL theory include economic sustainability, social sustainability and environmental sustainability. Through these three frameworks, it becomes possible to guide employees, investors, shareholders and other groups of stakeholders to act in ways that uphold the conception of a participating citizen in a community functions.
On the side of economic sustainability, organizations require long-term financial solidarity and short-term revenues to compensate individuals for their active participation in the major business programs, which makes the theory of TBL highly motivational (Mullerat 2010). Through the concept of economic sustainability, it is justifiable for any organization to create within its strategies a business plan that will allow for stable and prolonged business actions. In other words, TLB concepts will allow the business organization in question to meet both its long term and short term financial obligations like paying workers alongside meeting the financial expectations of investors (Ruggiero 2011). In areas of environmental control, business organizations can only execute their business activities through proper allocation of finances, particular in the purchase of goods or materials used in production.
Other than the economic benefits, the dumping of papers, plastic bags and containers used for wrapping or packaging is a possible cause that contradicts the concept of economic-sustainability. The idea behind this argument is based on the notion that money can only be saved on disposable costs and any activity that pollutes the environment adds to the overall cost of production (Öjendal, Hansson & Hellberg 2012). Even though there would be an increase in the bottom line within the short-term period of business activities, the long term costs would be unbearable hence a negative financial growth to facilitate future business activities. There are catastrophic economic consequences resulting from poor financial control, and the inability to meet the financial expectations of employees and shareholders would lead to immediate collapse of the organization and its major business activities.
On social sustainability, organizations need to use their business activities to create value balance between people and the way they live. Through properly designed business activities, organizations can focus on trade movement that fits the concept of ethical imperative so that individuals subscribing to the company’s business activities can share on various opportunities and wealth (Mullerat 2010). From the perspectives of ethics and support to sustainability issues, there is a possibility that an organization through its activities can foster peace and order so that there is equal sharing of resources in ways that prevent envy, resentment, and anger among beneficiaries. Through the application of the TBL theory, organizations are in a position to advocate for human respect and support for the less fortunate member of the society (Öjendal, Hansson & Hellberg 2012). In this line of discussion, policy makers agree with the common fact that stability in any business activity requires fair treatment and retained dignity, and this means that no individual should be treated like a machine even if the company is to expand or the activities to be organized in a way the attracts higher social benefits.
As far as environmental sustainability is concerned, organizations are required to work from the affirmative point of view that natural resources like oil, clean air and water are limited and at one point may be depleted. Individuals and business owners engage in environmental control because there are concerns for the rate at which natural resources deteriorate, and possibly future users may not have the opportunity to enjoy the same quality of life and experiences enjoyed today (Mullerat & Brennan 2011). Resource conservation and environment control has, therefore, become tremendously important for large, medium and small business as it may allow the future generation to have similar experiences with business activities.
In the analysis of the TBL theory and its relation to the sustainability policy of business organization, we assumed that the business functions are geared towards making profits and entirely focus on the implications for business earnings. Ideally, the main intention in this line of discussion is not to report the financial aspects, but rather to give an account of how businesses responds to the effect of social and environmental aspects of the their businesses on the society. The use of TBL theory as one of the guiding principles towards maintaining social responsibility has its limitations (Mullerat & Brennan 2011). For instance, the TBL principles demand that individuals should focus of profits as an important aspect within their sustainability policies. However, this may not be possible because the traditional goal to obtain profit without considering other outcomes may tamper with the needs to control both societal and environmental impacts of a social event. The concepts of TBL are also limited by the fact that while some aspects like earnings, revenues, and costs of operation can be quantified, it becomes difficult to quantify social and environmental aspects (Mullerat & Brennan 2011). For example, if an organization makes a commitment to protect the community and the environment through recycling, the impact of such an action may not be measure or quantified. This means that business organizations must design more compliant approaches, such as engaging in environmentally sound activities.
TBL and the sustainability policy of the Major League Baseball (MLB)
MLB like any other business organization understands that baseball form part of the social institution with specific social responsibilities. One of the social responsibilities according to the management involves caring for the environment, which is inextricably connected to all aspects of Triple Bottom Line Theory (Aras & Crowther 2010). However, the idea about economic sustainability, which is a common feature under TBL is lacking in MLB policy. For example, while the MLB theory focus is based on the notion that sound environmental practice improves the overall social welfare, the TBL theory is developed form the understanding that environmental sustainability improves both the social and economic welfare of a community. Therefore, as far as the relationships among the three factions are concerned, social, economic, and environmental sustainability, MLB policy is insufficiently applied.
Also noted is the fact that TBL theory focuses on the use of charitable organizations to improve on environmental performances while on the other hand, MLB policies involves the efforts of people, especially fans and players to promote environmental conservation for future use (Henriques & Richardson 2005). The attempt to use people to promote environmental conservation actions could be costly in the long run because these individuals must be paid in order to perform their duties effectively. In 2005, for example, the efforts by MLB and the partnership with NRDC led to the establishment of league greening initiatives, which required the MLB to recruit more staffs to facilitate environmental conservation issues. Further, the partnership between MLB and NRDC led to the formation of the Commissioner’s Initiative on Sustainable Stadium Operations and Team Practices otherwise known as CISSOTP with increased cost incurred by the Baseball league to facilitate all environmental initiatives. The TLB, however advocates for cost minimizing approaches that can be used to allow for effective environmental conservation.
The initial step towards the greening initiative was the formation of NRDC Greening Advisor, which is a virtual environmental resource guide customized and delivered to each partner and each team in the league (Henriques & Richardson 2005). With the creation of the Greening Advisor, MLB got the opportunity to determine and engage each team in environmental control through pursuant of environmentally superior operations within the stadium and outside the stadium. However, this action was contrary to the provisions of TBL theory, which requires for physical interaction between company employees and environmental advisors. The fact that MLB engages its teams in virtual environments limits the chances of face-to-face interactions and this has an impact on the practicality of some of the control programs.
It is true that since the establishment of the MLB sustainability program, professional and college sports have experienced robust benefits. The sustainability operations have allowed individuals stakeholders and sponsors of the sport event to save thousands of dollars used on energy, treatment of wastes and payment of water bill (Mullerat & Brennan 2011). The measures put forward by the management ensure that there are new opportunities created and that the league sponsorship enhances the brand value of MLB sports. However, the relationship between improved performance and extensive growth through sponsorship and donation, according to TBL, should be based on the fact that brand values are attached to CSR and not to the benefits accruing to an individual participant. This makes the objectives of MLB as far as social responsibility is concerned to be questionable, and particularly in areas of environmental benefits.
The partnership between NRDC and MLB and the immediate creation of Greening Advisory facilities the League’s effort to provide advice for the teams to incorporate within their functions the “Go Green” efforts (Shin 2014). Within the “Go Green” framework, the teams were required to determine their operations in their respective cities and work through environmentally superior operations in order to improve on the supply chain options. Apart from helping respective cities realize the clean environmental goals, MLB through its sustainability policy help stadiums and other play ground to reduce negative environmental impacts (Major League Baseball 2015). However, the programs like clean energy commissioning, waste collection and efficient water auditing have increased costs, which according to the principles of TBL are not socially improving. The high costs associated with the control programs have prevented teams from engaging in productive activities because most of the saved costs are to fulfill the needs for environmental conservation.
Despite the point of differences between TBL theory and MLB policies, MLB teams have remained focused on their social responsibility plans, and giving much attention to the contributions of the programs to the welfare of the surrounding communities. For instance, between the years 2006 and 2009, MLB through its mentorship programs helped Seattle Mariners to reduce the use of natural gas at Safeco Field’s by 44 percent (Aras & Crowther 2010). At the same time, Seattle Marines was able to reduce electricity consumption by 17 percent, and this was equivalent to 1 million dollar cost saved over the three years.
Within the short periods of partnership, the MLB’s sustainability goal was to recycle a minimum of 18,000 tennis ball cans, refurbish a minimum of 2 million virgin fiber-based napkins, and produce post-consumer recycled napkins to reduce case of environmental degradation. In addition to the mentioned initiative, MLB also aimed at joining the NCAA Final Four Committee for Sustainable integration of ecologically intelligent actions into areas of planning and production (Benoît & United Nations 2009). During the event planning, MLB operations were deemed significant because it allowed the planning and production committee to recycle more than seven tons of paper, cans and bottles. Similarly, MLB was able to recycle 15 tons of food waste in addition to donating unused foods and food products to the local communities. Another initiative by MLB focused on the use of clean source of energy such as wind and solar at each of its convention. For example, the MLB was able to generate energy from wind and solar during one of its conventions at George Brown’s Convention Centre.
In other words, NBL provided strategies and expertise for its leagues and teams to be in a position of identifying and measuring their environmental impacts on the general community (Henriques & Richardson 2004). The frameworks provided by the MLB also allow leagues and teams to establish baseline information through the internet that can be used by individuals to track environmental progress. At the same time, the MLB through its partnership works towards providing tools that can help leagues educate their employees on issues of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. The training programs offered by the MLB also allow sponsors, players and fans to understand the reasons behind environmental protection and resource conservation (Henriques & Richardson 2004). On this basis, MLB is considered one of the first organizations to engage in partnership with the sole purpose of developing environmental impact measures and control templates to help leagues and teams keep good track of water and energy use, facilitate waste generation, and waste recycling.
Conclusion and recommendation
Sound sustainability policy is important for any organization since it is one of the survival tactics used to ensure long-term productivity (Bowden, Lane & Martin 2001). TBL techniques offer clear guidelines that can be followed by individuals or organizers of sports events to obtain economic, social and environmental values for sustainable growth. With the applications of TBL techniques, we have indicated that MLB got into the position of determining and engaging each of its teams in environmental control by following environmentally superior operations within the stadium and in cities (Bowden, Lane & Martin 2001). For example, MLB’s office at Santo Domingo facilitates coordination with major MLB clubs, sponsors, executives, and players to engage in sustainable projects and programs that can have both economic and social values to the local communities (Major League Baseball 2015). Through TBL techniques, MLB was able to cover certain important areas of its sustainability program such as proper maintenance of office and stadium operations, transportation of team members and fans, use of clean energy, planning of events as well as recycling and waste management.
Even though the techniques of TBL are economically and socially beneficial, the limiting aspects require proper examination and policy establishment to allow for continuous communal growth (De & Perry 2012). The fact that the principle of financial sustainability is limiting may not prevent policy makers from considering the social and environmental aspects of TBL since all the goals are directed towards improving individuals’ living standards. This means that individuals can ignore the economic aspect and apply the TBL’s social sustainability to improve on the performance of teams registered under Major League Baseball.
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