Environment, Film, Politics, Sustainability

The Games We Play

by Robin Raj

Today marks the announcement of the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) – an unprecedented coalition of professional sports leagues, teams and sporting venues committed to reduce their impact on the environment. It represents the first time that teams from Major League Baseball, NFL, NBA, WNBA, NHL, and Major League Soccer have collaborated on a common environmental agenda. It comes with the enthusiastic support of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and if you’ve ever witnessed the amount of waste generated by 75,000 sports fans on any given Sunday, you begin to understand why.

The seeds of the initiative were planted some five years ago when NRDC senior scientist Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, NRDC board member Bob Fisher and I made the initial pitch to Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig’s office about the social, economic, and environmental benefits of going green. Allen and I had just participated in a successful greening initiative with the Philadelphia Eagles, the first professional sport team to integrate sustainability into its organizational mission. Their “Go Green” campaign served as a useful pilot and caught the attention of Robert Redford, another NRDC board member. Redford saw the value of using the games we play to take green practices mainstream and lended his support to the project. See the Video Citizen produced here.

Since that time, Citizen has helped NRDC develop dozens of online green guides for each of the major league teams, helping their front offices address areas from waste, energy, and transportation, to concessions, pesticides, and procurement. And through Hershkowitz’s leadership, he has helped forge an unprecented coalition.

While its nice to know that the practices surrounding the games we play are evolving, the games we play in Washington continue. We continue to play political games and punt the ball when it comes to addressing the real changes required by society when it comes to global warming and climate change. Meanwhile the consequences play out with greater speed and severity. A mere decade ago, we used to talk about strategies to avert global warming – but as Mark Hertsgaard describes in his new book Generation Hot, every child born after June 23, 1988, now belongs to a generation that will spend the rest of their lives intimately confronting global warming’s all-too-real impacts.

The beauty of the Green Sports Alliance is that it helps bring together all sides of the climate challenge – young and old, left and right, NGOs and Wall Street. It proves once again that the choices we make, the things we buy, the buildings we build, all make a difference – and we should never think otherwise.  By saving money, energy, and resources, and creating community engagement and goodwill, it’s simply smart business.

It’s only by raising mass consciousness that we will, in the words of Hertsgaard, “rouse ourselves from the stupor and inertia that currently engulfs us our politics.”

Categorized under: Environment | Film | Politics | Sustainability