How and Why Sporting Arenas Should Follow Corporate Social Responsibility in Their Food Services

It’s no new occurrence that, when we’re out seeing our favorite teams play, we tend to compromise a good deal and decent quality foods for a tray of greasy onion rings, and we don’t mind it at all. I’m personally a health freak, and once I found out how unsanitary vendors at sporting arenas are, I nearly swore off of seeing the Nuggets play for good, only because I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist the food at Colorado’s Pepsi Center.

I strongly find that it is in any venue’s best interest to avoid controversy, health misconduct, and legal repercussions by simply putting a higher emphasis on health and safety, as part of routine operations management. Yet, in nearly every state in the country, large sporting venues (including Colorado’s own Pepsi Center, and Invesco and Coors and Fields) have had anywhere from 10 to over 90% of their vendors filed for health risks, including animal droppings, pests in food, improper temperature for food being kept overnight, and a plethora of other health nightmares.

One very large part of being a vendor at any kind of sporting arena is that you will almost always have business on game day. This is both good and bad; I find that if you’re generating revenue, you’re never doing too poorly, but the more food you sell that is potentially dangerous, the more risk there is to harm someone and generate terrible publicity, or in some cases, a lawsuit.

Arguments could definitely be made that an element of consumer awareness and personal choice are necessary so that consumers can protect themselves from harm, but the point of CSR is to do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. 

As well as this, there has been a changing trend, since 2009 in the luxury of the sporting event atmosphere, which shows that, compared to the 1980s, the late 2000’s to present day has had a large shift in what constitutes “game day” for many. The world of peanuts and CrackerJacks has diminished, and the world of suites, club seating, and catered sports parties has flourished, for many. I’d argue that this high-brow world isn’t more prevailing than simple brand-equity, the same equity that made CrackerJacks a national icon and made us overlook McDonald’s glaring health concerns for a Happy Meal, back in the day.

Overall, I would argue that the customer is always right, even if we’ll eat whatever is edible, for nearly any price, so long as we don’t die of hunger while watching our teams represent our state. Companies have a vested interest in avoiding bad publicity due to disgusting and/or illegal practices that go on while serving food, but more importantly– it’s just not right to feed people, especially those who will buy your product with nearly perfectly inelastic demand, food that has been in disgusting, unhealthy, and germ-infested conditions, or that is prepared improperly. Whether you’re vending in a sporting arena, your own establishment, or an airport (which are typically just as bad), it is a vendor’s corporate social responsibility to look out for the customer.

Here is a list of some of the widest food chains and some of the health violations that investigators have discovered. Read at own risk, this is just the tip of the iceburg–bon appetit:


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