On November 21, representatives from Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and the U.S. Olympic Committee addressed a closed-door meeting of the Congressional Bicameral Committee on Climate Change. For the first time in history, senior sports officials testified before Congress about the risks that escalating climate change pose toward the future of sport.

“Your leagues are great cultural institutions that embody the American spirit,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said in response to the leagues’ testimony. “You are exhibiting clear public leadership by your statements and activities… I believe that sports can help us break through the barrage of special interests fighting action on climate change.”

Throughout the hearing the message was clear from each of the league representatives. Their actions have shown that ecologically responsible stadium operations and event management can have a beneficial impact both on the environment and on the economic bottom line. Now that addressing sustainability issues and climate change are on the radar of major professional sports organizations, the groundswell of support from sports has helped to shift the cultural attitudes toward the subject. As Adolpho A. Birch III of the NFL said at the session, “Sensible environmental policies are not only good for the environment but are good for our business.”

Read more about the Congressional Bicameral Committee on Climate Change here.