A busy GSB News & Notes kicks off with the newly minted Zero-Waste Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (the Zero-Waste part is new; the Coliseum opened during the Harding Administration). Also greening is tennis’ first major championship, the Australian Open, now underway in Melbourne. And, finally, a brief send off from GreenSportsBlog to President Obama, the first POTUS to publicly talk about the importance of the intersection of Green + Sports, on his last full day in office.
LA COLISEUM GOES ZERO-WASTE
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is huge, both literally—it holds 93,607 for football— and in terms of its place in American and global sports history.
The Los Angeles Coliseum, packed and jammed for USC-UCLA crosstown rivalry game in 2005 (Photo credit: Neil Leifer)
Just consider that the Coliseum:
- Hosted the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics. If Los Angeles is chosen to host in 2024, the Coliseum will play a key role.
- Was the landing place for the Los Angeles Dodgers when they moved west from Brooklyn in 1958 (until Dodger Stadium opened in 1962)
- Hosted Super Bowl I in 1967
- Is the home of USC Trojans football. UCLA shared the Coliseum with its crosstown rival from 1928-1981*.
- Starting last season, is the temporary home for the NFL Rams after a 20 year hiatus in St. Louis. The club will move to the gaudily-named City Of Champions Stadium—for the 2019 campaign#.
And, as of 2016, this west coast sports mecca became a Zero-Waste facility—the second-largest such stadium in college football and the largest in the NFL.
“We’re proud to be a part of a program such as the Zero Waste Initiative at the Coliseum. This is an opportunity for USC Athletics and our fans to lead the way in terms of taking ownership of our environmental impact on game days,” said USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann. “Our university, fans and alumni should be proud of the success of this program.”
“A large part of making our communities a better place includes making as little an impact on the environment as possible,” said Molly Higgins, the Rams’ vice president of community affairs and engagement.
The Zero Waste program diverted over 400,000 pounds of waste over the season. It took a 3-step effort between fans (who first sorted waste into bins), a crew of 80-100 custodial and sustainability staff (who further sorted the waste), and Athens Services, the Coliseum’s recycling partner, to make the grade.
Recycling bin outside of the LA Coliseum on USC game day (Photo credit: USCTrojans.com)
Corporate green-sports stalwarts BASF and EcoSafe added their waste management expertise as partners of the Coliseum’s Zero-Waste efforts. They were joined by Legends Hospitality (sustainable catering), ABM Janitorial Services (green cleaning), and Waxie (sustainable sanitary supply).
THE GREEN(ER) AUSTRALIAN OPEN
The team responsible for sustainability at the Australian Open—Tennis Australia (governing body of tennis in Australia), Melbourne & Olympic Parks (host facility of the Australian Open), and the State of Victoria—is in the midst of a 15 year, $AUD700 million redevelopment project with the goal to establish Melbourne & Olympic Park as “one of the most sustainable sports and entertainment venues in the world.”
About a year ago, GreenSportsBlog gave the Australian Open “Green Team” high marks for their on-site sustainability efforts but saw room for improvement in 2016 in terms of fan engagement and awareness of their sustainability good works.
How did they make out?
Thanks to a fine case study from the Sports Environment Alliance (SEA, Australia’s version of the Green Sports Alliance), it looks like the Tennis Australia and the Australian Open continued its strong greening performance on site but the fan engagement portion still rates an “Incomplete” grade. The Tennis Australia Green Team:
- Continued its decrease in water usage. The effort, which started in 2008, has now reached 25 percent, in part by:
- Irrigating Melbourne Park with recycled water thanks to large underground water tanks installed onsite.
- Switching irrigation systems from overhead spray to drip and sub surface.
- Installing above ground water tanks at Hisense Arena with 550,000-liter capacity to use rainwater for washing courts, stadiums and irrigation.
Invested in smart solar powered lighting
- Converted 100% of takeaway food packaging to recyclable materials
Ensured all seafood is served according to Australia’s Marine Conservation Society’s Seafood Watch “avoid list”
- Added state-of-the-art roof coatings that reflect 70 percent of the sun’s heat, keeping buildings cooler on the many very hot days that often plague the tournament.
Infographic detailing Australian Open/Tennis Australia’s greening efforts from Sports Environment Alliance
Tennis Australia still needs to better communicate the existence and benefits of the green initiatives to fans. This last point is echoed in the SEA case study: “Australian Open organizers know all about these greening efforts, however there remains a need to engage” the 700,000+ fans expected to attend the tournament about the greening efforts. I would add that fans watching on TV and online also need to be made aware that the Australian Open is a leader of the Green-Sports movement.
LAST DAY IN OFFICE FOR FIRST POTUS TO TALK GREEN-SPORTS
Today is the last full day in office for Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. It is not at all a stretch to say he was the first Climate Change President: Obama, mainly through executive actions, authored more stringent fuel economy standards for automobiles; enacted the Clean Power Plan, which is leading to a reduction in carbon emissions; signed a meaningful carbon emissions deal with China, and led the effort that resulted in the Paris Climate Accord, signed by 195 countries. He also is the first POTUS ever to publish a peer reviewed journal article,“The Irreversible Momentum of Clean Energy,” appearing in Science.
Obama, a serious sports fan and, at 55, still a competitive basketball player, was also the first POTUS to publicly discuss the power of the intersection of Green + Sports. GreenSportsBlog chronicled Obama’s and his administration’s dives into Green-Sports, from Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz speaking to the 2015 Green Sports Alliance Summit to the White House Sports-Climate Change Roundtables to POTUS’ mention of the NHL’s and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ commitment to sustainability (“we wanna continue to have ice so that we can play hockey”) at the latter’s White House ceremony celebrating its 2016 Stanley Cup win.
President Obama talks Green-Sports at the October 2016 ceremony honoring the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins (Green-Sports section of the talk starts at 6:41 mark of the video).
As Vice President Joe Biden so eloquently put it after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) in 2010, Obama’s Green-Sports forays were “big BLEEPING deals” for the movement. Because, while the sports world has done incredible work greening the games themselves over a very short time span (the Obama presidency began before the Green Sports Alliance was launched), it has a long way to go as far as generating fan awareness of, and interest in said greening is concerned. A President talking about Green-Sports automatically generates both.
Obama used sports to promote social causes beyond Green-Sports. Has there ever been a POTUS who embodied Nelson Mandela’s “Sport can change the world!” ethos more than the 44th President? I think not. Among other things, Obama:
- Keynoted a 2016 Town Hall on “Sports, Race and Achievement”
- Campaigned for equal pay for women at the White House ceremony for the 2015 WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx.
- Discussed the importance of access to sports for girls.
- Offered, in 2014, that had he been a father of a son, he would not allow him to play tackle football because of traumatic brain injury concerns.
And, it seems likely that the first black President was a key catalyst for the recent expressions of social conscience by African American athletes. That’s one of the points made in “Obama’s Basketball Jones Connected Him to Hoopheads Everywhere” by Mike Wise^. His STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW AND READ THIS column appears in the January 17 issue of ESPN’s The Undefeated, a website that explores “the intersections of race, sports and culture.”
President Obama, driving to the basket during a pickup game with White House staffers at Martha’s Vineyard in August, 2009. (Photo credit: The White House/Pete Souza, official photographer)
Will President Trump link sports and social causes? If so, which causes will he pursue? It is safe to assume that Green-Sports will not be a high priority for the 45th President. But that’s a discussion for another day.
For now, I say a heartfelt thank you to President Obama for his service, leadership (especially on climate change), integrity and dignity.
* UCLA has called the Rose Bowl home since 1982.
# The Rams will be joined by the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers.
^ Wise cited a June 6 piece in The Undefeated by colleague L.Z. Granderson, “Will Current NBA Stars #staywoke After Obama Leaves Office?”, as the source for his linkage of the activism of African American athletes and President Obama.
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