GreenSportsBlog believes that, for the Green-Sports movement to scale, it needs to go beyond engaging fans at stadia and arenas. That’s because most people don’t go to games. Rather, they consume sports on TV, on mobile devices, and more. To maximize its impact, Green-Sports messaging must be broadcast to those fans.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened much yet. Until the Pac-12 Networks began airing green-themed Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on their college football broadcasts this season.
Legendary Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and broadcaster Bill Walton is famous for calling the Pac-12 the “Conference of Champions!”
Bill Walton won two national championships while at UCLA in the 1970s (Photo credit: James Drake, Sports Illustrated)
He’s right: Pac-12 members Stanford and UCLA rank first and second in most NCAA championships won across all sports — Walton added two to UCLA’s total during the early 1970s. Arizona State and USC have been at the top of the college baseball world, Oregon has dominated track and field (athletics) and Washington has among the best rowing programs in the nation. Arizona, Cal-Berkeley, Colorado, Oregon State, Utah and Washington State have had their moments in the sun, too.
The Pac-12 is also well on its way to being a Green-Sports champion:
- It is the first major college sports conference to have all of its member schools join the Green Sports Alliance.
- The league itself is a GSA member
- In 2017, it became the first collegiate sports conference to hold it’s own sports-sustainability summit and now is making it an annual event
- The league launched its own sustainability-focused platform, Pac-12 Team Green. Watch this video to learn the basics.
- Pac-12 Team Green has a corporate sponsor, Unifi, one of the world’s leading innovators in manufacturing synthetic and recycled performance fibers
- Starting in 2016-17, the Pac-12 has held Zero Waste Bowl competitions in football and men’s basketball to see which of its member schools can divert the most waste from landfill. In addition to waste diversion, points are earned for partnerships, innovation, as well as fan and athlete engagement.
This is, of course, beyond great.
But I am always concerned that, as leagues and teams increasingly drive down the field, Green-Sports-wise, they often choose to stop short of the goal line. The goal line in this case is engaging fans on the environment and on climate change — specifically those fans who are not at the games but who watch them on television, online, and on their phones.
So I checked in with the Pac-12 to see if they have Green-themed TV public service announcements (PSAs) running on football games this season.
Turns out the answer is yes!
Three Team Green-themed PSAs are rotating throughout football broadcasts on games that are being aired on the Pac-12 Networks this fall.
Each Saturday during the football season, the network broadcasts one to three games to an estimated universe of approximately 40 million U.S. homes. While the league does not publicly disclose ratings data for its programming, we do know that football games garner the biggest audience of all sports, so the potential reach for the spots is significant.
The three, 30 second PSAs feature current Pac-12 football players and coaches sharing how they and their schools are greening the games, from recycling to riding bikes to using public transportation. Check them out below.
GSB’s Take: Kudos to the Pac-12 for moving the Green-Sports ball from the five yard line down to the one with their Team Green PSAs. Still, it says here that the Pac-12 stopped themselves just short of the goal line.
That is because of climate change. Or, to be more specific, the lack of talking about climate change.
To be clear, the 90-second Team Green video embedded near the top of this post includes this narration: “sports greening initiatives at each school are helping to reduce emissions of global warming pollution.” That spot has aired on Pac-12 Networks football broadcasts as well as on pre- and post-game shows.
That is great. It is a main reason the Pac-12 made it all the way to one yard line.
But the reason they didn’t cross the green goal line is none of the three, 30-second spots embedded at the bottom of the post mentioned global warming or climate change.
I don’t know why the Pac-12 went that route — perhaps it was unintentional, perhaps there was fear of going too heavy on climate change, given the political nature of the issue. If it is the latter, that fear is not well-founded:
- Pac-12 schools are in green hubs like Berkeley, Boulder, Eugene, Los Angeles, Palo Alto and Seattle. Climate change messaging would likely be cheered in Pac-12 country.
- Climate change, among a strong plurality of millennials and Gen Z-ers, is not an “if”, but a “when” issue — as in “When will adults get serious about solving climate change.”
Since the Pac-12 is leading the way on Green-Sports in North America, I hope…no, expect that all 2019 Team Green PSAs will address climate change head on. That would ensure that the conference easily busts over that green goal line.
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