Special Series

How Would the First Woman Commissioner of a Men’s Pro Sports League Deal with Climate Change?


GreenSportsBlog has long thought that the sports world, broadly speaking, has been far too slow and skittish about taking on the climate crisis.

Perhaps that is because women aren’t in charge of sports at the C- (as in “Commissioner-“) Level.

Because the data are clear: Women are more concerned about climate change and its effects far more than are their male counterparts.

Problem is, there has never been a woman in the commissioner’s office of a men’s North American pro sports league.

Well, GSB is fixing that.

We have anointed Monica Rowand as the first woman to be Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Rob Manfred, the current occupant of the office, need not worry, as this is only for today.

Then again, Manfred should feel good if, some time down the road, Rowand succeeds him since she: 

  • Is a lifelong baseball lover

  • Has a stellar Green-Sports resume, honing her craft at the University of Colorado-Boulder, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and as COO of Phase 3 Sports

  • Understands the existential nature of the climate crisis 

  • Told me when we first met in 2015 that her chief career goal is to become MLB’s Chief Sustainability Officer

I say, “Why aim so low? Go for Commish!”

So, without further ado, GreenSportsBlog is honored to present the inaugural address of Monica Rowand, the first woman to be elected Commissioner of Major League Baseball.


Dear Baseball Fans,

It is with great honor that I address you today as the first woman to be elected commissioner of a North American men’s professional sports league. I acknowledge that I stand on the shoulders of Val Ackerman, first President of the WNBA and other women who have successfully led women’s sports organizations.


Monica Rowand, COO of Phase 3 Sports and future Commissioner of Major League Baseball (Photo credit: The Daily Advertiser)


Thank you to the owners and selection committee for your confidence and progress. I look forward to continuing the work done by those before me and working with our you and the league office to make the game of baseball as great – and even better — as ever.

Before we talk about the future of baseball on the field, I’d like to take a few moments to address a very important off-the-field issue set to affect our great game.

I understand that this is not how we do things normally, but we no longer operate in a “normal” climate — figuratively or literally.

So, building on the groundwork laid by my most recent predecessors, Bud Selig and Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball will double down on our commitment to meaningful and measurable climate action. We will do so by aligning our organization with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – 17 goals adopted by government and business leaders as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all – paying particular attention to goal number 13, Climate Action.


Baseball’s most recent commissioners, Rob Manfred (l) and Bud Selig (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)


I am happy to say that I already have support from many of our owners and I urge all of our clubs to align their individual performance with both the Global Goals and the targets laid out in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

The League will continue to set an example for sustainable operations and work with our Clubs to put in place hearty expectations for their operations.  We will annually measure and reduce the footprints of our collective clubs’ operations.  The league will provide technical assistance to clubs and their stadium partners where needed. We will incentivize clubs, stadiums, and fans towards net positive performance regarding climate, other environmental and societal impacts.

Imagine a baseball where international game opponents are chosen based on the previous season’s carbon footprint or home field advantage is awarded based on waste reduction. Where it is easy for fans to get to a game without driving a car — and they are incentivized to do so.  Where those of us united by the game of baseball — from ushers to owners, from players to fans — can earn team rewards based on sustainable actions taken at home, work, and play.

We recognize that the ability to take such actions is easier in some locations over others. For this, I ask that our clubs become increasingly involved every city, state, and territory with MLB presence. We have a voice to be leveraged in making sure that the communities in which we operate are resilient, healthy, safe, and sustainable for everyone.

I ask the same of our partners and welcome conversations with all who share these values. Let’s work together to accomplish the 17 Goals and emissions reduction targets set before us and let’s talk about what we are doing. Major League Baseball will use its powerful platform, to let the world know via broadcasts and event-related activations about the progress we make, and we’ll ask our fans to follow our lead.


Major League Baseball, under the leadership of Commissioner Monica Rowand, will work to achieve the U.N.’s 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), paying particular attention to Goal 13, Climate Action (Credit: United Nations)


Now, while we are committed more than ever to maintaining our environment and communities so we can continue to play this great game, I ask fans and others to bear with us.  It will take planning and coordination on the League’s part. It will take time to implement changes.  And, some changes will take time to get used to. But nonetheless, Major League Baseball will do all that it can to ensure that come 2030, it is not past time for our National Pastime.


Monica “Commish” Rowand’s guest post is the third and final in our series examining the increasingly powerful role of women in Green-Sports

On Monday, “Women: Engines of Green-Sports” was named GSB’s Best Story of 2019.

And Tuesday, eight accomplished women from all corners of the Green-Sports world took the floor to offer their stories and insights about their successes and the challenges they face in this relatively new niche.


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