Tradition is an underrated facet of how we follow sports. Most NBA fans have previously heard that “basketball is simply better” as a product when the historically great franchises are relevant in the league. Though watching a new or seldom-appreciated franchise achieve meteoric success is enjoyable, it can be tough to compare that to the intensity of a fifty-year rivalry like the Lakers and Celtics.
This idea is even more true in baseball than in basketball or any other sport. Much of this comes down to baseball being the longest-standing major professional sport in America.
It has been an institution in this country since the late 19th century and has been as synonymously American as bald eagles and apple pie for nearly 150 years.
Nothing is a better showcase of baseball’s longstanding importance than Fenway Park. While the vast majority of existing stadiums have been built within the last 30 years, Fenway and Chicago’s Wrigley Field are in a league of their own as elder statesmen of the sport. Time will tell how long the 110-year-old Fenway can continue as the oldest baseball park in use. In the meantime, an announcement from ownership indicates a plan to improve the venue’s sustainability as we look to a carbon-free future.
The April announcement by the Red Sox organization marks Fenway’s shift into becoming a “climate leader” as one of the few carbon-neutral outfits in professional baseball. The plan is centered around carbon credits. Through a partnership with a financial firm named Aspiration, the Red Sox will be purchasing a sizable number of carbon credits that are generated by others for keeping carbon out of the atmosphere. A portion of all ticket sales will be diverted to fund these offsets. Ticket prices will not increase to compensate, as the Red Sox are dipping into their revenue streams directly to cover the carbon neutrality mission.
Though one could argue that mass offset purchases accomplish little more than simply pushing the carbon problem further down the road, it’s tough to debate their importance to farmers. As many of these credits initially come from independent farmers who are genuinely doing good work to remove excess carbon from the environment. And with billion-dollar organizations desperate for that carbon-neutral status more than ever, the income for these farmers to expand their sequestration efforts will only rise.
Organizations like the Red Sox must also contend with the reality of Fenway’s age not being as conducive to massive efficiency improvements as newer parks might be. “Finding sustainable and efficient ways to lower our carbon footprint and help offset the environmental impact of a 110-year-old ballpark requires creativity, unique methods, and deeply passionate partners like Aspiration,” says Red Sox chairman Tom Werner.
It’s a good start, especially given that the Aspiration deal also accounts for the emissions that come as a result of baseball games, including all exhaust emissions generated from the transportation of attendees. On the importance of partnering with Aspiration, in particular, Werner added: “We are thrilled to be working with a company that is fighting climate change by infusing that mission into every aspect of their business.”