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Tonight in New Orleans — Here’s to a Sustainable Pigskin Season

It’s been a significant day of news in the sustainable business world with the announcement of the latest updates to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (hello, Morgan Stanley; better luck next year, Shell). But it’s an important day for CSR in aspirational terms for another blue chip corporation, The National Football League (NFL).

That’s right: Tonight in New Orleans the 2010 NFL campaign opens with the Super Bowl Champion (and comeback icons of America) New Orleans Saints hosting the Minnesota Vikings. The league has proven to be a recession proof-juggernaut, growing audiences overseas and eclipsing baseball as America’s game.

So, with all this influence, what is the NFL’s contribution to a more sustainable society? A better question is what COULD be the NFL’s CSR strategy?

It’s interesting to note that while “pigskin” has long been a popular term for a football, pig hide has not been used to cover footballs since 1933. When the United States and Asian governments realized how uneconomical it was to use pigs to manufacture footballs, an anti-cruelty movement grew that ultimately led to the banning of the use of pig hides in footballs.

There is indeed a precedent for the NFL to study its value-chain in order to discover the innovation and integration needed to improve sustainability performance. While the NFL does indeed have a proud and important tradition of philanthropy, particularly in the areas of childhood development, hunger and health and wellness, there are ample opportunities for the league to tackle a wider sample of issues such as supply chain management, carbon intensity and water intensity reduction.

I happen to know FIFA employees CSR strategists, so if the NFL ever wants to compete with the world’s sport, it needs get serious about sustainability.

(Image Credit by rush_39402 via Flickr under a CC license )

Written by Lane Jost

A lifelong conservationist, angler, gardener and writer, Lane is a Corporate Responsibility strategy consultant based in Chicago, where he currently works a CR consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Prior to joining PwC, Lane was a global sustainability performance and stakeholder engagement specialist for Sodexo North America. He has experience in microfinance program evaluation at Grameen Foundation. A former President of the Net Impact Chapter at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Lane has a master's in International Development Economics from the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UCSD (IR/PS) and a bachelor's in history and international studies from Kenyon College. Prior to working in the sustainable business sphere, Lane spent six years as a communications and marketing professional focusing on arts and culture in New York City, where his work included the creation of the jazz website gothamjazz.com and serving as the publicist for the New York Philharmonic.

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