Free Shirts, Big Environmental Costs

Unless there’s a stunning turn of events, the Golden State Warriors will move on to the NBA Finals in the next few days (Steph Curry’s nasty fall could’ve been that stunning event but, thankfully and miraculously, he looks like he’ll be OK.) This would be great news for a couple of reasons: 1. The Warriors are the most fun team to watch in basketball, 2. Steph Curry is the most compelling player in the sport right now–and that includes LeBron James, and 3. The Warriors, being the NBA’s Bay Area franchise, not surprisingly, have a strong green track record. But, when you see Oracle Arena’s 20,000 or so fans all decked out in team-provided gold t-shirts at each home game, one wonders how green the Warriors franchise really is. Keith Peters, Executive Director of the Council For Responsible Sport recently brought this issue to the fore.

 

Oakland’s Oracle Arena, home of the Golden State Warriors, is one of the loudest arenas in the NBA, if not the loudest. The manic fan base gave the Warriors a valuable edge on its way to the league’s best home record this season. And, if they play their part on Wednesday, the crowd will assist Golden State, now up 3 games to 1, on its way past the Houston Rockets and on to the NBA Finals, the club’s first appearance in 40 years.  If you watch the game on ESPN, you will no doubt notice that the crowd is not only incredibly loud but that it is a veritable “Sea of Gold” as the club provides t-shirts to every fan, neatly laid out on each seat well before tip-off.

Oracle Arena Gold

Oracle Arena, home of the Golden State Warriors, fans bedecked in gold t-shirts provided by the team at a 2015 NBA Playoff game. (Photo credit: Goldenstateofmind.com)

 

And, while the Warriors are simply falling in line with most of the rest of the NBA playoff-bound clubs in terms of blanketing their arenas with team-colored t-shirts (there’s actually a term for this–“Shirting”), you’d think that the team that represents the environmentally-minded Bay Area would take a more environmentally-friendly approach. At least that’s what Keith Peters, former Nike sports marketer and Executive Director of the Council for Responsible Sport* thought when he penned this Letter To The Sports Editor of the New York Times in response to a Times story on shirting that ran on May 19. Thankfully, the Times chose to publish it this Sunday.

To the Sports Editor:

Re “Fans’ Uniform Look Is a Team Effort,” May 19: As a former Nike sports marketer, I admire eye-catching, creative efforts to build emotional ties among sports teams, stars and fans. As the executive director of the Council for Responsible Sport, I deplore overdone and wasteful attempts to generate brand impressions.

I get the picture-perfect impact of 20,000 yellow T-shirts on television when the Golden State Warriors play a home game in the playoffs. What I cannot reconcile is the fact that they’ve given away some 250,000 T-shirts during the last three seasons’ playoffs, yet as members of the Green Sports Alliance, they claim to care about the environment.

Consider this: It takes more than 700 gallons of water to produce enough cotton to make one T-shirt, the quantities of insecticides and pesticides used in conventional cotton farming are disproportionally high, and the transportation costs and impacts from cotton farms to N.B.A. arenas are tremendous. I don’t mean to pick on the Warriors — all four conference finalists partake in dressing their arenas — but Golden State seems to be the most profligate.

Well done and thank you, Keith–couldn’t have said it better myself! Let’s Go Warriors and then let’s see if they can take a more environmentally friendly approach next season.

* The Council for Responsible Sport is a non-profit, based in Eugene, OR, that certifies socially and environmentally responsible sports events. GSB profiled the Council last September.

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Email us: lew@greensportsblog.com

Tweet us: @greensportsblog

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