GreenSportsBlogger to Moderate “Sports, Carbon and Climate” Panel at Green Sports Alliance Summit June 19

The 2018 UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was crystal clear: Humanity has 12 years to decarbonize by 45 percent if we are to have a reasonable chance to avoid the most calamitous effects of climate change. To put that in sports terms, we only have the length of Mike Trout’s recent mega-contract extension with the Anaheim Angels, to make these changes. 

Thus it is fitting that climate change will have a much bigger role at the 2019 Green Sports Alliance Summit than any of the organization’s previous annual gatherings. The schedule features three sessions with climate in the title and I am proud to be moderating one of them, “Sports, Carbon and Climate.” Here’s a brief preview.

 

“Sports, Carbon and Climate” will delve into the best ways for the sports world to go about reducing carbon emissions and thus climate change, while navigating the scientific, political and cultural challenges inherent in sports taking on these fights . Specifically, the panel will discuss how:

  • Carbon pricing could potentially benefit the sports industry;
  • Going carbon neutral can help teams and events engage fans to take climate action;
  • The UN’s new Sports for Climate Action initiative turn into a powerful fan engagement tool;
  • Carbon offset projects, funded by sports teams and leagues, can make a positive impact, as well as their limitations

Our All-Star panel lineup includes:

  • David Antonioli, CEO, Verra: The nonprofit develops and manages standards and frameworks to vet environmental and sustainable development efforts, build their capacity and enable funding for sustaining and scaling up their benefits. Its Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program is the world’s most widely used voluntary greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reductions program.
  • Steve Hams, Director of Engagement, Business Climate Leaders (BCL): BCL is an initiative of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), a nonpartisan grassroots advocacy group with nearly 120,000 members in over 450 U.S. chapters. It helps American businesses understand and take action in shaping federal climate policy, with a focus on carbon pricing. Specifically, BCL encourages leaders from businesses of all sizes to endorse the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act: the first bicameral, bipartisan carbon pricing bill ever introduced in Congress.
  • Aileen McManamon, Founder and Managing Partner of 5T Sports: McManamon has been working to promote the United Nations Sports for Climate Action initiative which she co-authored. She works with sports teams and leagues on tripe bottom line business operations throughout North America and Europe.
  • Kevin Wilhelm, CEO Sustainable Business Consulting: Wilhelm played a key role in the Seattle Sounders (MLS) becoming North America’s first professional sports team to achieve carbon neutrality. He is the author of four books on the environment, including the acclaimed “Making Sustainability Stick.”

 

GSA Summit

 

The ninth annual Green Sports Alliance Summit takes place at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles¹, June 19-20. Click here if you would like to attend.

 

¹ The aforementioned Mike Trout is from the Philadelphia area and is a die hard Eagles fan.

 


 

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Greening the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games Seattle

How great is it when an iconic cause-based event like the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games embraces another cause — in this case, environmental sustainability? We’re talking really great.

GreenSportsBlog spoke with the sustainability team for Special Olympics USA 2018 Seattle — Karlan Jessen, Director of Volunteers and Sustainability; David Muller, Sustainability Consultant; and Tim Reeve, Sustainability Advisor — to find out how it came together, what worked well and what could’ve been better.

 

It was about a year before the July 1, 2018 Opening Ceremonies for the Special Olympics USA Games Seattle took place at Husky Stadium on the University of Washington campus, and an environmental sustainability plan was nowhere in sight.

And, since there had never been a sustainability effort at any of the three prior quadrennial USA Games, the odds were that Green would not be a part of the 2018 version.

Karlan Jessen, David Muller and Tim Reeve collectively and figuratively said “to heck with those odds,” and formed a Sustainability All-Star team of sorts. They created and implemented a greening program in what had to be record time.

 

Special Olympics Karlan_Headshot

Karlan Jessen (Photo credit: Karlan Jessen)

 

Special Olympics David Muller and Tim Reeve

David Muller (l) and Tim Reeve at the University of Washington (Photo credit: David Muller)

 

Jessen’s experience owning two used sporting goods stores, managing bicycle tours and running events made her an ideal pick for the Director of Volunteers and Sustainability role. Muller has deep experience consulting on sustainable events, focusing on environmental impact mitigation and positive social impact. And the Vancouver-based Reeve heads Reeve Consulting Group, a sustainability advisory firm. He’d worked with the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on sustainability and responsible sourcing issues.

 

“I THOUGHT THERE SHOULD BE A SUSTAINABILITY EFFORT SO I RAISED MY HAND”

As general planning for the Seattle Special Olympics got started in earnest, Jessen started to get questions about sustainability from some of the event’s existing corporate partners. “ESPN in particular asked about what could be done. Nothing was being planned at the time” Jessen recalled. “I thought there should be a sustainability effort, and even though we only had a year or so to make it happen, I raised my hand. I knew David from our sustainability studies at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (which later merged with Presidio Graduate School), so it was natural to team up with him.” It wasn’t long before Reeve joined to make the group a triumvirate.

The team quickly established a plan that was made up of six sustainability pillars. Four were environmentally focused, while the other two fall in the social portion of the broad Environmental-Social-Governance (ESG) definition of sustainability:

Environmental Pillars

  1. Waste/Recycling
  2. Transportation
  3. Food/Beverage
  4. Sourcing

Social Pillars

  1. Accessibility/Inclusion
  2. Legacy/Education

Microsoft, based in nearby Redmond and the title sponsor of the 2018 USA Games, quickly bought into the social pillars. “Education and legacy were very important to Microsoft,” Jessen noted. “Inclusion, especially fair hiring practices, also was a big deal to them. And when you think about it, the Special Olympics demonstrates inclusion by its very existence!”

“Education and legacy was a home run,” chimed in Reeve. ”

 

BIGGEST ENVIRONMENTAL SUCCESSES: WASTE AND TRANSPORTATION

The environmental sustainability portion was more challenging. The success stories came from waste and transportation.

“Our waste-to-recycling program and food donations programs worked really well, thanks in large part to the University of Washington food service team,” reported Reeve. “Recycling is one of the most highly visible examples of a greening program at a sports event so we had to get that right. And we did.”

 

Special Olympics Green Team Volunteers success story

Green Team Volunteers sorting recycling, compost, and food donations (Photo credit: Tim Reeve)

 

Coca-Cola pitched in by bringing their reverse vending machines to the event. Fans and athletes would put empty plastics into the machine and a 5¢ donation would be made to Special Olympics for each donation. Per Muller, “Final numbers were not made public but it’s safe to say that thousands of bottles were recaptured.”

“Transportation was also a big win — that’s where we saw the biggest greenhouse gas emissions reductions,” added Muller. “The University of Washington was a great set up — it’s compact, very walkable and is located on a transit route. There is a robust bike share infrastructure at UW. Energy efficient shuttles ferried athletes and their families to and from events. And Lyft provided discounted as well as free ride sharing.”

 

Special Olympics Light Rail

Athletes and coaches taking light rail to T-Mobile Park (formerly Safeco Field) for the Special Olympics’ Night at the Ballpark (Photo credit: Cori Dixon)

 

The nearly 4,000 athletes and their families noticed Seattle’s greening efforts around the Special Olympics.

“We had numerous conversations with athletes and their families during the Special Olympics and they were really impressed by the city’s commitment to making this a green event,” recalled Reeve. “A sustainability passport was provided for the athletes for things like transportation so they were involved with the greening effort almost as soon as they arrived in the city.”

In a survey conducted after the Special Olympics among athletes and their families by Brian McCullough of Seattle University showed that 60 percent said, “My attitude toward environmental sustainably has improved due to the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games initiatives.”

 

TIME WAS THE SUSTAINABILITY TEAM’S BIGGEST ENEMY

Here’s a note to the leadership group that is organizing the 2022 Special Olympics USA for Orlando: Jessen, Muller and Reeve agreed that a year was not nearly enough time to maximize the effectiveness of a sustainability plan.

“Lack of time really challenged us in terms of getting buy-in on the value proposition of a robust sustainability effort from the CEO and Executive Committee,” noted Reeve. “That kind of early support would have been crucial in terms of being woven into the budgeting and sourcing processes, as well as securing sustainability-focused sponsors. That would have helped us on food donation, signage and more.”

The team had a plan to offset emissions but there was no budget for it.

“About 90 percent of event emissions came from air travel,” Muller said. “We were looking at offset costs ranging from $25,000-$60,000 but there was no budget for it. Had we started earlier, we certainly could’ve found a partner to fund the offsets.”

What kind of time frame would be ideal to develop and manage an effective sustainability effort at a Special Olympics?

Consider that planners for the FIFA 2026 World Cup in Canada, Mexico and the USA will have eight years to get sustainability right, and the organizers at the LA 2028 Olympics will have had eleven years since being award the Games in 2017.

Now, no one is saying that the Special Olympics USA is of a similar scale as those two mega events.

Given that’s the case, what is the ideal length of time to put a sustainability plan in place that the team would be proud of?

The verdict was unanimous:

“Three years!,” said Judges Jessen, Muller and Reeve.

 

 


 

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Two More UN Sports for Climate Action Signees: U of Colorado Athletics and AEG

The UN’s Sports for Climate Action Framework has had a great month, USA-sports-wise. After gaining commitments from the New York Yankees and the NBA, the Framework added the University of Colorado’s athletics department, on of the leaders at the intersection of Green & College Sports, and AEG, the world’s #1 sports and entertainment venue owner/manager.

 

U OF COLORADO BECOMES FIRST COLLEGIATE ATHLETICS DEPARTMENT TO SIGN ON TO SPORTS FOR CLIMATE ACTION FRAMEWORK

The University of Colorado Buffaloes last week became the first college/university athletics department in the USA to commit to the UN’s Sports For Climate Action agreement and its two main objectives:

  1. Achieve a clear trajectory for the global sports community to combat climate change
  2. Leverage sports as a unifying tool to drive climate awareness and action among global citizens.

GreenSportsBlog readers will not be surprised.

The Buffaloes have been Green-College Sports trail blazers for more than a decade, dating back to the 2008 launch of the groundbreaking Ralphie’s Green Stampede sports-sustainability program. Since then, CU Athletics:

  • Became the first major college sports program to implement a zero waste program at all of its game day venues.
  • Earned LEED Platinum certification in 2016 for a major athletics facilities upgrade thanks in part to a net-zero-energy Indoor Practice Facility that boasts an 850-kilowatt rooftop solar array. Its basketball and volleyball practice facility was also built to LEED Platinum standards.
  • Pushed to reduce the use of pesticides on turf fields.

 

Folsom Field

Aerial view of Folsom Field (r), home of University of Colorado Buffaloes football; Franklin Field, and the solar-powered Indoor Practice Facility in the foreground. (Photo credit: University of Colorado Athletics)

 

“We’re thrilled to be an early adopter of the U.N. Sports for Climate Action Framework,” said CU Athletic Director Rick George. “This is consistent with the leadership and excellence expected by CU Boulder students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans as we confront the critical issue of climate change.”

Dave Newport, Director of CU’s Environmental Center, sees the Athletics Department’s decision to join the Framework as just one more example of college sports’ unique ability to accelerate the Green-Sports movement’s impact.

“All college sports are the ‘front porch of the university’ as the saying goes,” Newport noted. “When a college sports team goes big on green, they elevate and leverage that college’s or university’s very considerable educational, research, and cultural climate impacts.”

 

Dave Newport

Dave Newport, Director of the Environmental Center at University of Colorado, Boulder (Photo credit: Dave Newport)

 

GSB’s Take: Hopefully, CU Athletics’ decision to sign on to the Sports For Climate Action Framework will lead other already-greening college athletics departments to do the same. College sports, with its many millions of fans, and universities more broadly, with their many thousands of students studying climate change and other environmental topics, form an ideal petri dish for Green-Sports innovation. I’m sure CU Athletics will benefit from being part of Sports for Climate Action, and Sports for Climate Action will certainly benefit from having CU Athletics on board.

 

SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT GIANT AEG ALSO JOINS “SPORTS FOR CLIMATE ACTION” ROSTER

The impact of getting the commitment of AEG, the world’s leading sports and live entertainment organization, to sign on to Sports For Climate Action, is much bigger than signing up one company.

That is because these AEG-owned teams also signed on, becoming the first in their respective leagues to do so:

And the company’s Amgen Tour of California — the state’s premiere bike race on the UCI World Tour and — also committed to the Framework, as did AEG Rugby.

“AEG is proud to support the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework,” said John Marler, Vice President of Energy and Environment, AEG. “Given our recently adopted greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal – which aligns with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report on limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius – this is a natural next step for our sports teams that will complement our existing efforts to reduce our carbon emissions and to raise awareness about this critical global challenge.”

 

Marler

John Marler, AEG’s Vice President of Energy and Environment (Photo credit: AEG)

 

UN Head of Global Climate Action, Niclas Svenningsen happily welcomed AEG to the fold, noting that the company “has built significant global trust and moral leadership, and – because sports touch on every cross-section of society – drives positive change throughout the world.”

 

GSB’s Take: The most important nugget in the AEG-Sports For Climate Action story for me is the company’s decision to tie its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions goals to those of the Paris Climate Agreement’s target.

To be clear, if companies and governments only achieve the Paris targets, the world still will not have gotten to the levels of GHG reductions necessary.

But Paris is an important starting goal. The hope is that AEG and many other companies in all industries will not only make their Paris-based targets, but blow by them.

 


 

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Severe Flooding Forces Davenport, Iowa Minor League Baseball Club on the Road for Weeks

The historic and deadly flooding that has crippled the Midwest through the winter and into the spring, and caused billions of dollars in damage to farms and infrastructure, has forced Davenport, Iowa’s minor league baseball team to the road for most of the six week old season.

 

In “Field of Dreams,” the iconic 1989 film homage to fathers, sons and small-town baseball, the long-deceased Shoeless Joe Jackson, played by Ray Liotta, reappears in uniform on a field that’s bordered by acres of corn. Protagonist Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, an anonymous, baseball-loving farmer, had built the field in his backyard to somehow attract his deceased dad, a one-time minor leaguer, from the great beyond.

Thanks to time travel and poetic license, Shoeless Joe, two teams worth of early 20th century baseball greats, and Ray’s dad all emerged from the corn fields as young men to play a game. Kinsella and his younger-than-himself dad famously played catch and then the young-but-deceased ballplayers returned to from whence they came, walking back into the corn.

Shoeless Joe was the last to go.

Before disappearing into the corn, he famously asked Ray, “Is this heaven?”

Ray’s reply? “No, it’s Iowa”

 

 

 

QUAD CITIES RIVER BANDITS IN FIRST PLACE, DESPITE AN UN-HEAVENLY, FLOOD RAVAGED EARLY SEASON

Residents of Davenport and other sections of Eastern Iowa that abut the Mississippi River might use a descriptor other than heavenly to describe the prolonged, massive flooding that has persisted since winter.

The river’s rising waters, which are forecast to affect millions across as many as 25 states through the summer, have made it impossible for the Quad City River Bandits, Davenport’s Class A minor league baseball club affiliated with the Houston Astros, to play at home for most of the season’s first six weeks.

That the team is somehow in first place in the Midwest League’s Western Division after 30 games played mostly on the road is astounding. They’ve been Road Warriors because they can’t access their stadium as it is surrounded by water.

Modern Woodmen Park, the River Bandit’s home field, is saved from floodwaters by a levee system. It can be reached during some floods, thanks to a 21 foot high catwalk. But that was not enough to deal with the record-high water that hit 22.64 feet on May 2nd, the day after a flood wall unexpectedly broke, according to the National Weather Service.

 

River Bandits Stadium

Modern Woodmen Park and downtown Davenport is seen from the air as flood waters flowed into the city on Wednesday, May 1. A flood wall broke the day before, sending water to near record levels with little to no warning (Photo credit: Brian Powers/The Des Moines Register)

 

Per a May 4 story by Phil McCausland on nbcnews.com, that means “the players are unable to practice regularly, stadium employees have had to find other jobs and the team has known little else than the road for most of the season.”

“They have had three practices at our field,” general manager Jacqueline Holm told McCausland. “They’ve barely been on the field. It’s been difficult for them to do anything. We’ve basically had to use the team bus as a clubhouse and storage unit.”

Davenport, with a population of 103,000, has in fared better than most other towns along the Mississippi’s most flood-prone sections, thanks to a unique flood protection system.

McCausland noted that many towns along the Mississippi River have built flood walls to protect against rising waters, but Davenport has gone in a different direction for decades. Instead, it has worked to build flood-resistant buildings and created a riverwalk area around the ballpark that can accommodate the additional water. A temporary berm system can also be built when necessary.

“We have embraced the Mississippi River,” Frank Klipsch, Davenport’s mayor since 2016, said. “It has become more and more popular to take on this kind of resiliency plan because if we put up a wall, it makes it worse for communities further downriver.”

 

Image: Davenport Iowa Flooding
Ryan Lincoln maneuvers his boat through flood waters on May 2, 2019 in Davenport, Iowa (Photo credit: 
Kevin E. Schmid/Quad-City Times via Zuma Press)

 

Some unlucky business owners saw multiple feet of water flow into their restaurants and storefronts last week when a temporary levee, which had already stood for 40 days this year, suddenly broke.

This kind of flooding is not something most of the River Bandits players, most in their late teens to early 20s, could have imagined. It makes their already difficult road to reaching the major leagues even tougher.

Manager Ray Hernandez praised his young players’ resiliency and ability to maintain focus despite the challenges. But the first-year skipper admitted he didn’t have all the answers.

“Even if it was my 15th season managing, I don’t know if I would know how to handle this,” Hernandez told McCausland. “I mean, who would I even call to ask and get advice?”

 

MINOR LEAGUE SPORTS PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE TO EXTREME WEATHER

It stands to reason that minor league teams, no matter the sport, are much more susceptible to the harsh effects of extreme weather and climate change than their wealthier major league counterparts.

A number of lower division English football/soccer clubs have been buffeted by flooding in recent years. In some cases, the impacts have bordered on the existential.

Andrew Gate, writing in the April 30 issue of Ecologistcited these examples:

  • Sixth tier Gloucester City AFC have yet to have a permanent stadium after floods destroyed their former home Meadow Park in 2007. A plan was approved on May 3 to build a new venue on the same site.
  • Flooding nearly meant the end of 127-year old Tadcaster Albion, currently playing in the eighth tier, not once, but twice. Water completely submerged the club’s Ings Lane Stadium in 2015 and again this March. The club’s press officer Jay Taylor noted that the club faces an uncertain future if such flooding happens again.

 

Ings Lane

Flooding submerged Tadcaster Albion’s Ings Lane Stadium in March (Photo credit: Tadcaster Albion)

 

  • Ramsbottom United, also in the eighth tier, has had to battle back from flooding twice, in 2012 and 2015 their home was completely submerged. Club Secretary Tony Cunningham told Gate that, “In 2015, the dressing rooms, the teabar and even the elevated Sponsors Lounge were submerged. It took us well over £40,000 ($US52,010 today) to get the club back up and running.”

 

For a club in the lower reaches of English football, an unexpected £40,000 hit can be crushing. Ramsbottom United, thanks to prudent management, has been able to withstand the flood-related costs until now.

But there are no guarantees going forward.

 


 

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The GSB Interview: Chris Mazdzer, US Olympic Medal-winning Luger & Eco-Athlete

Chris Mazdzer is a true pioneer.

He became the first American male to win an Olympic medal in Single’s luge when he took home silver at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games. And he is leading a burgeoning movement among world class lugers to engage fans on the climate change fight.

GreenSportsBlog spoke with Mazdzer about his work on the luge track and as an environmental activist.

 

GreenSportsBlog: Chris, before we get into your very important work with your fellow lugers on the environment and on climate, I’d like to know how you got into the sport in the first place.

Chris Mazdzer: Thanks, Lew. So I grew up in Peru, New York near Lake Placid…

GSB: …Site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics and the “Miracle on Ice” — “Do you believe in miracles?? YES!!!!” — and one of the few places in the U.S. with a bobsled/luge run.

Chris: That would be the place. I was exposed to luge at eight years old and it was natural for me. I loved sledding — would go sledding through apple orchards for hours. Luge was like ultimate sledding for me. Anyway, I showed some talent for it at a young age. I was on a development team when I was 12; at 13, I showed enough promise that I was picked for a junior team that went to Europe for a competition.

GSB: Sliding down a sheet of ice on your back, with no protection. Yikes! I guess when you’re young, you’re more likely to be fearless, right? How come you picked luge over bobsled?

Chris: First of all there were many more kids bobsledding so there was a long line and not as many runs. Plus you’re only driving 50 percent of the time — that’s really where the action is. And luge was just SO MUCH FUN! It’s as simple as this: two runs with bobsled or ten with luge. Anyways, when I was 17, I was having a breakout season and tried out for the Olympic team for the 2006 Torino Games. I missed the last spot by 0.161 seconds total over three runs; lost out to my roommate.

GSB: You must’ve been devastated…

Chris: …Disappointed but not at all devastated. It gave me motivation and the confidence to really believe, “Hey, I can do this!” So I made the team in 2010, finishing 13th in Vancouver. Same thing happened in 2014 in Sochi. Finally, I broke through last year in Pyeongchang, winning silver

GSB …In the process, becoming the first American male luger to win a medal of any kind in singles. Congratulations! Do you compete in doubles?

 

Chris Mazdzer

Chris Mazdzer (Photo credit: USA Luge)

 

Chris: Thank you, Lew. I did doubles in juniors but ended up specializing in singles, until now that is. My goal is to give the Olympics one more shot in Beijing in 2022, both in singles and for the first time in doubles.

GSB: How about medaling in both? Not to put any pressure on you or anything like that! OK, now pivoting to the environment. How did you get involved?

Chris: I’m 30 years-old. Growing up in the Adirondacks and being involved in winter sports, I’ve seen changes to our winters just in the time that I’ve been active. From bigger thaws to more rain during winter when it would normally snow. But it’s not just in winter. I travel a lot — I was in Indonesia and saw massive amounts of plastic on the beaches, in the oceans. I live in Salt Lake City these days, and the air quality is really, really bad. I don’t need the science to tell me — it’s clear, the climate is changing, the environment is worsening and it is humans that are helping to cause these adverse effects. And studying the science only confirms this. Without a doubt.

GSB: So what did you do, what are you doing to have an impact?

Chris: Well, I started out looking to offset the carbon emissions for which I’m responsible from all my flights. But, because I fly over 150,000 miles per year, that becomes quite costly. So I try to offset at least half for now. But then I became an athlete member on the International Luge Federation (FIL), sitting on a lot of committees. And I realized this is where I could have an impact! We’re starting small, working to have reusable cups at major competitions. But then I saw a video featuring several skiers at the World Championships in Finland, talking about why they love winter and why it’s important to take action on climate to protect it. I thought to myself, ‘We could do something similar.’ People don’t believe politicians; they don’t believe scientists. Who do they trust? Their peers and athletes! Scary but true: They trust athletes more than scientists. Thing is, athletes generally don’t engage on climate. And so I aimed to change that, at least with lugers.

GSB: You’ve put yourself on the hot seat, Chris: Qualify for the Olympics and getting athletes — in this case — lugers to care about and talk about climate. How are you doing the latter?

Chris: Well, I started in January by putting together a seminar for lugers competing at the 2019 World Championships in Winterberg, Germany. I was able to secure funding from one of my personal sponsors and brought in an expert and amazing speaker, Michael Pedersen of M Inc., a leader in sport governance. Tragically and unbelievably, Michael passed away suddenly a few weeks after our event due to a heart attack. He was 43.

GSB: I heard about that. What a tragic, unfathomable loss.

Chris: It’s still hard to believe. And his presentation to our group was incredible. He shared that athletes are in a unique position, with a powerful megaphone. He showed videos of people who’ve stood up and spoken up on a variety of issues, including climate, including Greta Thunberg, the 16 year-old Swedish girl who recently was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for starting what has virally become a global student “climate strike” movement.. He did not focus on the science — the athletes are already on board there — but rather the need to use our platform to talk about the environment, whether it be climate, plastic ocean waste, pollution, etc.

 

Michael Pedersen

The late Michael Pedersen (Photo credit: M Inc.)

 

GSB: How did the lugers react and how many showed up?

Chris: Michael did such a great job — they really bought in. We had 15 lugers there. It was not as many as we would’ve liked but it was World Championship Week, the guys had to train, had media requirements so it was tough to get a bigger group. And it was a first time, so we learned a lot and am confident we’ll do better going forward.

GSB: How did you do on the track in Winterberg?

Chris: I only competed in doubles and doubles sprint this year due to a neck injury I sustained earlier in the week.  My partner Jayson Terdiman and I finished fifth in the Doubles sprint and eleventh in Doubles. Being it was our first year together I felt that we did we really well.

GSB: Good to hear. What else are you working on, sustainability-wise?

Chris: I’m working on the single use plastic issue among athletes and also with the IOC to see how they can help athletes reduce their carbon footprints. It’s a bigger issue than you might think — we get killed by some critics. Because of going from event to event all over the world, my carbon footprint is 10 to 15 times that of the average American. I think that finding creative ways to partner with the IOC, FIL and sponsors to help fund the offsetting of athlete travel-related emissions will allow athletes to stand on firmer ground when discussing this important topic.

 

Luge - Winter Olympics Day 1

Chris Mazdzer navigates Turn 14 at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics (Photo credit: USA Luge)

 


 

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One More Sports-Climate Change Moon Shot Idea: “It’s About NOTHING!”

It’s the finale — Day V of GreenSportsBlog’s #EarthWeek Extravaganza! In case you missed them, here are links to our first four posts of the week.

And now, for post five…

 

In Monday’s GreenSportsBlog, ten Green-Sports All-Stars — plus yours truly — offered up big, audacious Moon Shot-type ideas on how sports can take on climate change. One more idea from a group of three friends came in too late to make the original piece.

I thought the idea had merit and decided to post it here.

 


“Everybody’s giving away something…We’re going to give away NOTHING!”

Jerry Seinfeld Standup Comedian 

George Costanza New York Yankees Assistant to the Traveling Secretary

Kramer ???

 

SCENE 1

LOCATION: The Coffee Shop

Jerry, somewhat downcast, sits at the gang’s regular booth nursing a coffee; George walks in enthusiastically and sits down opposite Jerry

 

JERRY: Hey…

GEORGE: Hey…Got your message! You got a gig in Philadelphia? Philly’s a great town but what’s the deal with the Liberty Bell? I mean can’t they fix the crack? It’s been 240-odd years already! There’s gotta be somethin’ for that. Anyway, tell me, tell me.

JERRY: I don’t know; my crazy agent got me a spot at a convention, a trade show…

GEORGE: Look, I know it’s not “The Tonight Show” but, really, I’m amazed you’ve been able to make it so long talking about [IMITATING JERRY] ‘where do the socks go after you put them in the dryer? What’s the deal with THAT?’ [RETURNS TO BEING GEORGE] You had a good run, my friend. Beggars can’t be choosers! So what convention is it?

JERRY: That’s the thing. It’s something called the Green Sports Alliance Summit. A group concerned with the intersection of sports and the environment? What’s the deal with THAT?!?

GEORGE: [Snaps fingers excitedly] Wait a second, Jerry…I know that outfit! The Yankees are a part of it! It’s a big deal, actually. Sports teams and stadiums are trying have been going green for awhile now! Solar panels, energy efficient lights. We compost and recycle virtually all of our food waste at Yankee Stadium. And get this: There’s this minor league soccer team in England that mows the lawn with a solar powered Mo-Bot. Hey, I could see Kramer getting involved with a solar powered MoBot…[LAUGHS]

JERRY: [WRY EXPRESSION]: If you want that MoBot to run amok, Kramer’s your man. [EXASPERATED]: Anyway I have no idea what to say to these Green Sports Alliance people!! I got nothin’ George, nothin’! You gotta help me!

GEORGE: Don’t worry, Jerry! I’ve got this. We’ve got this. Hey, this is just like the old days…

JERRY: How so?

GEORGE: You know, when we worked together. As a team.

JERRY: When was that?

GEORGE: You know, a looooong time ago, in the early 90s. When we pitched that sitcom idea to NBC.

JERRY: [LAUGHING] Oh yeah…your idea was ‘The Show About Nothing’. We met with  Russell Dalrymple, President of NBC and you said…’every sitcom is about something, we’re going to do NOTHING!’ 

GEORGE: [HARKENING BACK TO THEIR BRAINSTORM 25+ YEARS EARLIER]: I know. I asked Russell, ‘So, what did you do today?’

JERRY: [AS DALRYMPLE]…’Woke up, had breakfast, went to work.’

GEORGE: ‘THAT’S A SHOW!’

JERRY: About nothing! Which is what I’ve got for Philly.

[FADE TO COMMERCIAL]

 

George & Jerry

George Costanza and Jerry Seinfeld discuss their idea (Photo credit: NBC)

 

 

George and Jerry pitch “The Show About Nothing” to NBC (2 minutes 34 seconds)

 

SCENE 2

LOCATION: Jerry’s Apartment, Jerry and George sit on the couch, each with a legal pad, both tired. Clearly they’ve been working for a long time.

JERRY: George, I just can’t imagine doing a comedy routine about the environment and especially climate change.

[KRAMER bounds in without knocking, joins the conversation without missing a beat]

KRAMER: Oh, climate change is a biiiiiiig problem! It’s cut the season for the Mackinaw Peaches from two weeks down to two days! Two DAYS Jerry!

 

The Mackinaw Peaches (44 seconds)

 

JERRY: That’s the least of it. If the reports I read are right, the effects of climate change are going to be calamitous on a global scale. As far as I can tell, there’s nothing funny about climate change.

GEORGE: [SNAPS TO ALERTNESS] Jerry, say that again?

JERRY: Say what again? There’s nothing funny about climate change?

GEORGE: [SPRINGS TO HIS FEET!] That’s IT!

JERRY: That’s what?

GEORGE: Nothing comes to the rescue again!!!

JERRY: What are you talking about?

GEORGE: Just this: Remember “everybody’s doing something, we’re gonna do NOTHING!”?

JERRY: Yeah, so??

GEORGE: Well, OK, at all these conferences and trade shows, the vendors and the event producer — in this case, the Green Sports Alliance — gives out lots of swag bags.

KRAMER: A SWAAAAG bag! [DISGUSTED] YEAH!!!

GEORGE: …Filled with something, lots of something. Stuff people never use.

JERRY: Oh I know those swag bags. Pens, note pads. Oh and they always give out lots of coasters. What’s the deal with all those coasters?

KRAMER: All that stuff just ends up in the trash, Jerry! Goes to the landfill, takes thousands of years to degrade! Jerry, the Green Sports Alliance needs to go swag-less in Philly! It’s time to BAG THE SWAG…BAG!

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 7.48.30 PM

George shows his disdain for swag bags as Kramer and Jerry look on (Photo credit: NBC)

 

JERRY: I get it! Instead of a swag bag worth of something…

GEORGE: …The GSA will give out NOTHING!!!

JERRY: George, I think you’ve got something there…

KRAMER: [IN ANNOUNCER VOICE] You can save 15 percent or more on carbon emissions when you BAG THE SWAG BAG!

[FADE TO BLACK]

 

 


 

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GSB News and Notes: Plogging (Trash Pick Up while Jogging) Takes Off in NYC; LEED Silver for Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum; SI Covers Climate Change

It’s Day IV of GreenSportsBlog’s #EarthWeek Extravaganza! In case you missed it, here are links to our first three posts of the week. 

In today’s GSB News & Notes, we bring you, courtesy of the New York Roadrunners, our first story on plogging, a new mashup of trash pick up and jogging. Then we head west to Milwaukee where Fiserv Forum, the new home of the NBA’s Bucks, recently earned LEED Silver status. Finally, Sports Illustrated takes on climate change, with Winter Is Going: How Climate Change Is Imperiling Outdoor Sporting Heritage”

 

PLOGGING COMES TO NEW YORK ON EARTH DAY

Runners love to combine almost anything with their sport, from doing errands to taking photographs. So that’s why it’s no surprise to me that picking up trash while running is starting to catch on.

So said Michael Capiraso, president and CEO of the New York Road Runners, about plogging, a new, environmentally-friendly biathlon of sorts that first bubbled up in Sweden in 2016.

 

Michael Capiraso

Michael Capiraso (Photo credit: New York Road Runners)

 

Fast forward to late 2018; the Road Runners’ braintrust was looking to do something fun and cool for Earth Day and plogging came to mind. The organization’s first plog came together quickly.

“We’ve been planning our plog for the last two to three months and announced it to our members only three weeks ago,” Capiraso reported. “Twenty ploggers got together Earth Day morning at our West 57th Street RUNCenter, headed west and then north into Riverside Park. Then our staff did their own plog in the afternoon rain.”

 

IMG_0613 (1)

Runners gather at the NYRR RUNCenter before heading out on the first-ever NYRR plogging event in celebration of Earth Day (Photo credit: New York Road Runners)

 

The ploggers, who wore gloves during the plog, got some odd looks from passersby as they ran and then stopped — or should I say stooped — to pick up all manner of trash large and small. They deposited the plastics, coffee cups, snack bags, cigarette butts, and more into bags that they carried with them along the route.

The Road Runners feel the plog was a success on a number of levels.

“Honestly, it was a lot of fun; our ploggers were so enthusiastic,” gushed Capiraso. “Runners are always aware of their surroundings so plogging is a natural fit. And it’s a great cross-training exercise. Some did squats and lunges as they plogged. Others did push ups. One of our ploggers told me she does it on her own anyway.”

 

IMG_0005

Plogging, a combination of running and picking up litter, is a great way to stay fit and do good for your community (Photo credit: New York Road Runners)

 

The Earth Day plog, which was not a competitive race, was likely just the beginning for the Road Runners.

“We see plogging as something that will grow organically,” offered Capiraso. “It will appeal to our runners, staff and the community alike.”

Who knows? Someday, in the not too distant future, maybe we will see a New York City Plogathon.

 

MILWAUKEE BUCKS’ FISERV FORUM EARNS LEED SILVER STATUS

The magical Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka The Greek Freak, and the rest of the young Milwaukee Bucks, surprised most NBA fans by earning the league’s best record this season. If you want to have a fun three minutes before getting into the heart of this , story out The Greek Freak’s highlight reel.

 

 

You’re back? Good!

When the Bucks host the opening game of their second round series against the Boston Celtics Sunday afternoon, they will be playing their first home game since Fiserv (FĪ-serv) Forum earned LEED Silver certification.

 

fiserv Ty Helbach

Fiserv Forum, newly-minted LEED Silver certified home of the Milwaukee Bucks (Photo credit: Ty Helbach)

 

Specific initiatives that contributed towards the new arena’s certification include:

  • Plants native to southeastern Wisconsin were selected to reduce outdoor water consumption as they require less water to stay healthy
  • Heat recovery technology and other efficient design practices reduce energy use by 12 percent
  • All food and drink containers are compostable, and Fiserv Forum is plastic straw-free
  • The 5th Street Parking Structure boasts EV charging stations and carpool spaces

 

“Fiserv Forum is a world-class arena in all aspects, including sustainability, and we are proud to announce our LEED Silver Certification on Earth Day,” said Fiserv Forum and Bucks President Peter Feigin. “We take to heart our role as caretakers of the community, and initiatives like bird-friendly windows, the elimination of plastic straws, and low-flow toilets demonstrate our commitment to the environment and the future of Milwaukee.”

 

Peter Feigin

Peter Feigin (Photo credit; Milwaukee Bucks)

 

The arena’s LEED Silver Certification extends a strong Green-Sports run for Milwaukee. Earlier this season, Bucks point guard Malcolm Brogdon launched Hoops₂O to help fund the digging of wells to bring much needed freshwater to East Africa. And Brewers pitcher Brent Suter started Strike Out Waste, an initiative designed to dramatically reduce the use of plastic water bottles by major league ballplayers.

 

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED COVERS CLIMATE CHANGE DURING EARTH WEEK

The negative impacts of climate change — and its shorter, warmer winters on the “sporting way of life” in Canada and the northern U.S. — was the subject of an in-depth, long-form story in Sports Illustrated’s April 22nd issue.

Stanley Kay’s “Winter Is Going: How Climate Change Is Imperiling Outdoor Sporting Heritage” is well-worth the read. He:

  • Takes us on a quick trip through the history and cultural import of outdoor and pond hockey: “Bobby Orr once called backyard rinks ‘the heart and soul of hockey.'”

 

SI Hockey Rink 2

An outdoor hockey rink lacking ice, outside of Calgary, Alberta (Photo credit: Todd Korol)

 

  • Details some of the concerning climate change statistics to outdoor hockey enthusiasts: “In the United States, average winter temperatures in every state have warmed at least 1° Fahrenheit since 1970, and in four hockey-mad states—Alaska, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin—winters have warmed by more than 5°.”
  • Notes the significant climate change-related economic fallout for the snow sports industry: “Between 2001 and ’16 the U.S. ski industry lost $1 billion and 17,400 jobs during low-snow seasons compared with an average year…As bad as the problem is in North America, it’s even worse in Europe, where half of the Alps’ glacial ice has already disappeared. The Swiss Alps’ snow season is 37 days shorter than it was in 1970.”

Thing is, the content of Kay’s story, while certainly interesting and important, is not the reason I’m writing about it.

It was the mere fact that the editors of SI — a major sports media property despite declines in circulation and some relevance over the past decade — decided to run a climate change-themed story that prompted this note.

By my reckoning, this is the first green-tinted article in the magazine since the March, 2007 issue. Pitcher Dontrelle Willis, then with the sea-level-rise-challenged Miami Marlins, graced the cover. The iconic photo shows the lefty engulfed by water up to his knees, silhouetted by the headline, “Global Warming: “As the Planet Changes, So Do the Games We Play. Time to Pay Attention.”

 

SI Cover

 

Here’s hoping the Kay’s story gets strong readership numbers so SI’s editors feel emboldened to green light other Green-Sports pieces — and that it only takes 12 weeks for the next one, not 12 years. Because, per the 2018 IPCC report, that’s how much time humanity has to cut global carbon emissions in half to avoid climate change’s most catastrophic effects.

Hey, SI, if you need some Green-Sports story ideas, let’s talk!

 

 


 

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