August 13, 2021 — After thirteen years of certifying hundreds of individual sporting events around the world, the Council for Responsible Sport (Council) now announces the release of the Responsible Sport Standard for Organizations, enabling the voluntary pursuit by multi-event sport organizations to assess their activities against exacting standards and pursue official Responsible Sport Certification.
The new collection of standardized good practice guidance was designed around four core principles: leveraging the power of sport, resolving climate change, enabling social justice, and the ethical business of sport. Twenty-one key indicators and 94 recommended actions span five broad categories that are the foundation of all events, including: planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity, and community legacy.
“Sports organizations and event hosts have been looking for a structured approach to adopting an increasingly sustainable approach to everything they do – The Responsible Sport Standard for Organizations gives them a practical roadmap to do that” said Shelley Villalobos, Managing Director of the Council.
Aspiring organizations can use the standard to build a plan that is right for them and then report their actions, impacts and performance initially for self-assessment. They can achieve formal and globally recognized certification after having a twelve-month period of reporting verified by an independent third party.
“Organizations that host a few or even hundreds of events each year can now more easily understand, develop, implement and track actions that will align them with the global effort to address climate change and to utilize sport’s platform to foster social justice and equality” continued Villalobos. “Sport has a unique opportunity to accelerate change – but leadership at every individual organization must look beyond the bottom line towards true purpose, and actions have to be distinct. This program helps groups identify their responsible path and move forward on it.”
While all organizations can self-assess, to qualify for certification, sixteen actions are considered obligatory, after which different opportunities can be pursued to earn credits across the five categories towards the basic level of certification, earned when 45 percent of the overall criteria has been verifiably implemented. The highest level of achievement, deemed the ‘Evergreen’ level, is earned when 90 percent or more of the criteria in the standard has been verifiably implemented.
Once the independently verified certification is earned, organizations will be awarded use of the Responsible Sport Certified seal of achievement which can be used to confirm their attainment and be publicly recognized by the Council for their efforts. A Responsible Sport Report will be available to all stakeholders and will enhance the transparency of the program by detailing how organizations earned sufficient credit to reach the threshold of certification across the five categories.
While other frameworks to certify organizational management systems for events exist, the Responsible Sport Standard for Organizations is the first known to specifically address the circumstances of hosting or co-hosting activities by groups with large sporting event portfolios across potentially multiple venues and locations. These may include sport governing bodies, organizing committees, venues, sports commissions and visitors’ bureaus, professional and amateur franchises, and collegiate athletic departments.
The Council developed the new standard through a robust process of inquiry and engagement with sport sector representatives beginning in May 2020 with the intention to provide clear guidance to organizations that host and produce sporting events to ensure that those events meet societal expectations of safety, social diversity and inclusion, and environmental responsibility. A 24-member advisory committee to review and revise the standard included representation by Chicago Event Management, Sport Ecology Group, Sport Positive, IRONMAN, and New York Road Runners, among others.
The Council will begin rolling out the new standards with existing single event partners who wish to expand to their entire portfolio and additional early adopters will be announced individually in the coming weeks and months.