News and Notes

GSB News and Notes: Rival Fans Team Up on Climate, Forest Grows In Soccer Stadium, NBA Players Invest in Veggie Burgers

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In today’s jam-packed GSB News & Notes:

– Rival fans of the University of Utah and Brigham Young University (BYU) have found one thing on which they agree — the need to tackle the climate crisis.

– An Austria soccer stadium becomes home to a forest.

– And a group of NBA players are early, high profile investors in veggie burger companies. 

 

“HOLY WAR” CEASE FIRE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE

Life stopped for about four hours on August 29 for a good chunk of Utah’s population. That’s when the visiting University of Utah Utes defeated the BYU Cougars 30-12 in the annual intrastate “Holy War” game in Provo. The rivalry between is every bit as fierce if not as well known as Alabama-Auburn (“The Iron Bowl”), Yankees-Red Sox, or Packers-Bears.

But this year, some red-clad Utah and blue-attired BYU students came together at halftime, forming a welcome purple wall to draw attention to the urgent need to take on the climate crisis.

Their message: If Utes and Cougars can meet up to work on climate change solutions, other warring groups of reds (Republicans) and blues (Democrats) can too.

The group, which calls itself Far Middle, created “United We Change,” a short, cheeky video that describes their mission to bring together Utes and Cougs on climate:

 

 

But that wasn’t all.

Far Middle also formed a glowing “#M” on a hill clearly visible from inside BYU’s packed LaVell Edwards Stadium the night of The Holy War..

According to the students, the #M stood not only for “Middle,” but also for “Mitt” as in Utah Republican Senator and 2012 GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Per the Far Middle website, the group wanted to “thank our main man, Senator Mitt Romney for taking climate change seriously.” Ten days before The Holy War, at a speech in front of a conservative audience in Salt Lake City, Romney stated that climate change is happening and human activity is a significant contributor. He acknowledged this position is rare among his fellow Republicans.

To make sure Senator Romney doesn’t waver on his support for climate change, Far Middle created an ironically-titled “don’t change” Change.org petition.

Again, from their website: “Mitt is showing that climate change is bigger than rivalries and political ideologies, and we don’t want to see that stop anytime soon. So we’re thanking him for seeing that bipartisanship (the far middle) is where durable solutions will be found. Whether you’re a Ute, a Coug, or heck, just a resident of planet earth who’d like elected officials to work together in order to avoid planetary destruction, you can help by signing the petition.”

As of Wednesday, 527 people have signed on.

 

GSB’s Take: OK, 527 people is not a groundswell but it’s a start. So even if you didn’t go to Utah or BYU, and even though the 2019 Holy War was played six weeks ago, you can still sign the Far Middle’s petition.

Hopefully the Far Middle idea will spread quickly to other red-blue college sports rivalries, like Ohio State-Michigan, Georgia-Florida and Rutgers-Seton Hall¹.

 

AUSTRIA STADIUM TRANSFORMED INTO CONTROVERSIAL FOREST ART INSTALLATION TO DRAW ATTENTION TO CLIMATE CRISIS

Before September 8, Wörthersee Stadium in Klagenfurt, Austria was nothing out of the ordinary.

But from that day until October 27, the 32,000 seat, 12-year-old soccer stadium that normally is home to second division (aka top minor league) SK Austria Klagenfurt, is instead showcasing “For Forest — The Unending Attraction of Nature,” the largest art installation in the country.

“For Forest” is brainchild of artist Klaus Littmann. According to a September 6 photo-story by Jim Powell in The Guardian, Littman was inspired more than 30 years ago by Max Peintner’s 1970-71 pencil drawing, “The Unending Attraction of Nature.”

 

Max Peintner’s “The Unending Attraction of Nature” (Photo credit: The Guardian)

 

Peintner imagined a time when forests will exist only as exhibition objects. Littmann decided to turn imagination into reality.

Landscape architect Enzo Enea used 300 trees to cover the entire pitch with a mixed forest characteristic of central Europe. The project is Austria’s largest public art installation and can be seen for free, day or night, from 10 AM to 10 PM. “For Forest” was funded in part by “tree sponsors”, each of whom contributed €5,000.

 

The “For Forest” art installation by Klaus Littmann at Wörthersee Stadium in Klagenfurt, Austria (Photo credit: David Payr/The New York Times)

 

Per Alex Marshall, writing in the September 27 issue of The New York TimesLittman “said he wanted people who saw the forest to think about humanity’s impact on the environment in places like the Amazon.”

Not surprisingly, there has been some controversy surrounding “For Forest”. From Marshall’s Times piece, the project has been attacked “For using foreign trees, instead of local ones from Carinthia [region], and for preventing a local soccer team using the stadium for important matches.”

According to Littmann, transporting the trees had released up to 55 tonnes of carbon dioxide. That is roughly equivalent to the emissions created by taking 25 flights from New York to Vienna.

The artist had hoped to find a stadium in France, Germany or Switzerland but no team in those countries would allow their stadium to be used. SK Austria Klagenfurt’s owners said yes because the team is performing poorly and attendance has been very low. They are playing their “home games” in Graz, 90 miles to the northeast during the seven week “For Forest” installation.

 

Aerial view of “For Forest” (Photo credit: UNIMO)

 

The exhibition is drawing between 3,000 and 7,000 daily visitors. After it closes on October 27, the trees will be replanted nearby.

 

GSB’s Take: The power and boldness of this exhibit. If it draws around 250,000 people over its seven week run, the carbon emissions emitted to make it happen seem worth it to me.

It would be even more worthwhile if those emissions are being offset by Littmann and his team. It is not clear whether that is the case.

 

VEGGIE BURGERS: NEW PERFORMANCE FOOD & INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR NBA STARS

Environmentally-friendly veggie burgers (as compared to beef) are the new performance food.

According to SI.com’s Chris Ballard, that’s what several NBA stars believe. And they are putting their money where their mouths are.

Here are some highlights from Ballard’s must-read September 24 piece, “Beyond Endorsing: How Veggie Burgers Became the NBA’s New Gatorade”:

  • Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder), Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets), DeAndre Jordan (Nets) and JJ Redick (New Orleans Pelicans) were among the NBA stars who invested in Beyond Meat, the “El Segundo, Calif., producer of plant-based [Beyond Burgers] and sausages engineered to taste and look like the real thing”, before its May 2 initial public offering (IPO).
  • The stock opened that day at $46/share, closed its first day of trading at $65. “By July it had soared above $230/share, a rise of more than 800 percent.” It has since dropped to $126 as of Wednesday morning trading on NASDAQ.
  • The players say they weren’t in it mainly for the cash (they’re all multi-millionaires many times over. “Rather, they are…converts and proselytizers.”
  • Paul and Redick eat both plant and animal protein, Jordan is a vegan.
  • Redick, who grew up with vegetarian parents, had tried a myriad of veggie burgers but didn’t like the taste. Beyond Burger, to Redick, tasted like beef.
  • Today’s NBA players constantly seek micro advantages. “If a plant-based diet really can extend a playing career—as Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown contends and many believe—then reducing meat intake is worth the trade-off.”
  • Irving starred in the first 30 second Beyond Burgers ad, “The Future of Protein, last February.

 

 

GSB’s Take: NBA players as brand ambassadors for vegan burgers? That is FANTASTIC! Both Beyond Burger and main competitor Impossible Burger (from privately held Impossible Foods) are far more beef-like, both taste- and texture-wise, than their predecessors in the veggie burger market. My personal preference is for Impossible Burger, now offered at Burger King (“the Impossible Whopper”).

I would love to see a Nike vs. Adidas-like advertising rivalry among high profile NBA stars, with some lining up with Beyond and others hawking Impossible.

 

¹ Why include Rutgers-Seton Hall? It’s a bitter, annual in-state men’s basketball game in New Jersey and the GreenSportsBlogger is a proud Rutgers Scarlet Knight alum.

 


 

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