Let’s Start a Movement to Get the Sports Media to #CoverGreenSports

Longtime readers of GreenSportsBlog know I believe that Green-Sports 1.0 — the greening of stadia and arenas — has been a great success. They also know I believe that Green-Sports 2.0 — engaging the 65-70 percent of humans who are sports fans on environmental issues, including climate change — is the more important yet far heavier lift.

For Green-Sports 2.0 to have a chance of meaningful success, the media — sports and otherwise — needs to do a much better job of sharing the many inspirational Green-Sports stories with its sizable audiences. It says here that the media won’t do so on its own. So we, the GreenSportsBlog community, need to push them. And that starts today with the launch of the #CoverGreenSports hashtag. 

 

 

Since I launched GreenSportsBlog almost five years ago, I’ve found there are two opposing forces in the sports-greening movement:

#1: The sports world is greening rapidly: And that pace has picked up to the point where:

  • LEED certification for stadia and arenas is considered the cost of doing business. In fact, the biggest question is often not IF a venue will go for LEED, but will it go for Platinum or “settle” for Gold,
  • Zero-waste games — to qualify, stadia or arenas must divert 90 percent or more of food waste from the landfill — are increasingly commonplace, as are on-site solar panel installations, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, and much, much more.

#2: A precious few sports fans know about this: Despite an increased number of fan engagement efforts by a gaggle of teams and leagues recently, I would bet real money on the accuracy of this statement.

Absent any meaningful data on sports fan awareness of Green-Sports initiatives (note to the Green Sports Alliance — a quantitative, projectable study, updated over time, is much needed here) the best I can offer right now is this nugget of anecdotal data:

In early April, I moderated “The Intersection of Sustainability, Sports and Business,” a panel discussion held at the NYU Stern School of Business and hosted by their Center for Sustainable Business. Before turning to the panel, I asked the audience if they knew that Ohio State home football games are zero-waste, that the Super Bowl offsets all of the direct emissions associated game, and more.

 

Zero-Waste 1

Zero-Waste 2

Zero Waste Stations and signage, Lower Level Concourse at Ohio Stadium, home of Ohio State football. The stadium has been Zero-Waste — diverting more than 90% of food waste from landfill — since 2013 (Photo Credit: Lewis Blaustein)

 

Maybe two or three hands moved skyward in response to each question — a tiny number considering there were 50-60 people in the room.

Not good, I thought.

We need to get awareness about Green-Sports waaaaay up among sports fans. How high? Given the existential nature of the climate crisis I would be satisfied with awareness levels similar to the number of people who know that you can save 15 percent or more on car insurance by switching to GEICO!

 

GEICO Ad Age

Awareness of Green-Sports approaching awareness levels of nearly ubiquitous GEICO ads? Now THAT would be surprising…and welcome (Photo credit: Ad Age)

 

The only way we get that close to that exalted neighborhood is through significant sports media coverage of the great, sports-greening advances happening virtually every day in many corners of the sports world.

Not so fast, you say! “TV networks and cable sports outlets like ESPN and Fox Sports want their announcers talking about the games. They don’t want them talking about the environment!”

Of course, the game is the thing during a broadcast, but it’s not the only thing.

Sportscasters often bring up the causes promoted by the league, teams and/or athletes they’re covering. Those mentions are sometimes prompted by a contractual relationship — i.e. when the NFL sponsored Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the networks that broadcast the games in the U.S. (CBS, Fox, ESPN, and NBC) ran breast cancer-related public service announcements (PSAs). Or sometimes an announcer will organically bring up the cause-related work of a player he/she is covering (I’m making this up: “LeBron James scored 40 points tonight, which means $4,000 is donated to the LeBron James Family Foundation.”)

Environmental issues, especially climate change, need similar oxygen on sports broadcasts, no matter the medium.

But that won’t happen unless the broadcast and cable networks airing sports events, along with the websites, newspapers, and magazines that write about them believe there is an audience for environmentally themed content.

That means green-minded sports fans are going to have let the ESPNs, the CBS Sports’ of the world know that the sports-greening movement is important to them. That also holds true for sports websites like TheRinger.com and SI.com, news websites like npr.com and Slate.com as well as sustainability-focused sites like GreenBiz.com.

Fans should reach out to sportscasters who are active on social media and who are known for speaking about issues beyond the playing field. Bob Ley (@BobLeyESPN), the long-time host of ESPN’s “Outside The Lines,” is Exhibit A. Peter King (@SI_PeterKing), the long time Sports Illustrated NFL writer, and author of the must read MMQB (Monday Morning Quarterback) column on SI.com, is Exhibit B.

Newscasters with an expressed interest in sports (there are a lot of them!) should also be contacted. Mike Pesca (@pescami), host of The Gist podcast — which tackles sports along with other topics — on Slate.com, needs to be in the know about Green-Sports. And Alabama Crimson Tide, Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. fanatic Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) should be added to the list. I’m sure you can come up with more.

And that’s where #CoverGreenSports comes in.

When we (and that means YOU!) hear about a Green-Sports story, through this blog or anywhere else, we need to reach out to the folks listed above via social media with the #CoverGreenSports hashtag. Here’s what I mean:

Ex-UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is expected to be selected in the top 10 in Thursday’s NFL draft. For argument’s sake, let’s say he’s selected by the Buffalo Bills (per my column a couple of weeks back, I hope he ends up with the New York Jets. But I think they’re going to pass on him in favor of Baker Mayfield so Rosen will shuffle off to Buffalo.) Any green-minded Bills fans should reach out to the team and to the local broadcast stations with a tweet that could go something like this: @Josh3Rosen is a member of the @BuffaloBills! How gr8 is THAT!? We have a QB that will lead us to the #SuperBowl and who cares about #climatechange! Please tell Rosen’s green story. #CoverGreenSports

If you’re not a Bills fan, you could still craft a tweet tailored for the national media (ESPN, Fox Sports, etc.): @Josh3Rosen, new @BuffaloBills QB, is also an #ecoathlete. Tell his green story during Bills games — millennials and GenZ viewers will thank you. Don’t be afraid of those opposed; Green-Sports a winner. #CoverGreenSports

And — now this is really important — we also need to give BIG shout outs to those who ARE ALREADY COVERING Green-Sports and who may start to use the #CoverGreenSports hashtag. That is a small club for now but membership is growing slowly but surely. We can be the catalyst that accelerates the growth trend.

I will tweet the #CoverGreenSports hashtag (and use it on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn) whenever appropriate – to “nudge” those who need to cover it or to “fame” those who already, wisely, are. Will you retweet? Are you with me?

Let’s DO THIS!

Of course we can’t just do this willy-nilly; a strategic approach is what’s needed. Since hashtags and connecting with influencers are not my bailiwick, I reached out to someone who lives and breathes strategic influencer outreach.

Andrea Learned (@AndreaLearned) is a Seattle-based, self-described “communications strategist, with deep expertise in influencer relations.” Sustainability is one of her primary beats on Twitter. Andrea has made it a cause to generate interest in urban cycling-for-transportation by promoting the #Bikes4Climate hashtag as part of the broader #Cities4Climate movement.

 

Andrea.Profile.HardiePic

Andrea Learned (Photo credit: Hardie Cobbs)

 

In a free-flowing conversation a few weeks back, Andrea enthusiastically offered these suggestions:

  • “Map out an influencer strategy that goes beyond the tried and true, established ‘influencers’ — in the environmental space, that might mean Leo DiCaprio — to find new up and comers.”
  • “Find social media influencers who are interested in sports and climate. Athletes and non-athletes. Use the community you already know and expand from there. For example, I am always attuned to climate journalists who also happen to be big city bikers. Those writers have the potential to be climate action INFLUENCERS in capital letters “
  • Reach out to them with Green-Sports messaging and #CoverGreenSports and retweet their responses. Love them UP for even mentioning green-sport elements in any of the reporting they do already. “

Suffice to say, while I will be on the lookout for new influencers to move the #CoverGreenSports hashtag, I realize I already am connected to a great group influencers — y’all!

So please help spread the #CoverGreenSports hashtag. I promise you three things:

  1. Doing so will take a minimal amount of time, and
  2. It will be fun, and
  3. Your impact per minute spent has the potential to be massive!

 


 

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Chris Long: Wins 2nd Straight Super Bowl, Climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro to Bring Attention to East Africa’s Water Crisis

Many a Super Bowl MVP, starting with New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms back in 1987, have, in the moments after winning the award, answered the question “What’s Next” by proclaiming “I’m going to Disney World!” Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long did not win the MVP of Super Bowl LII (backup QB turned hero Nick Foles did) but, if he was asked the “What’s Next” question, his answer would’ve been “Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to draw attention to the East Africa water crisis.” 

 

Chris Long is having quite a last 13 months, on and off the field. Let’s review:

  • February 2017: Earned his first Super Bowl ring, playing a key role as a defensive end for the New England Patriots in their epic comeback from a 28-3 deficit to win Super Bowl LI, 34-28 over the Atlanta Falcons.
  • March 2017: Long and a group of 11 hearty souls, including retired NFL players, took Long’s “Conquering Kili Challenge,” climbing 19,000 foot Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania as part of his Waterboys.org initiative. As detailed in a May, 2017 GreenSportsBlog post, Waterboys 1) raises awareness of the fresh water crisis in East Africa, 2) funds the digging of wells in the area — 32 to date — one for each NFL team — and 3) teaches the locals how to do the digging and maintaining. This was Long’s second ascent of Kilimanjaro

 

Video highlights of 2017’s “Conquering Kili Challenge”

 

  • March 2017: Signed an effective two year, $4.5 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, citing the Cheesesteaks’ scheme as being a better fit for his skill set.
  • October 2017: Donated his entire 2017 base salary of $1 million to benefit educational charities in the three cities in which he’s played during his 10-year NFL career — St. Louis (formerly the home of the Rams), Boston, Philadelphia — as well as to fund scholarships to a private middle and high school in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. “In my 10th year, I want to celebrate the awesome opportunity I’ve had to play football by giving back to the communities that have given me that gift,” Long said in a statement. “Educational opportunity and equity are the best gateway to a better tomorrow for everyone in America.”
  • December 2017: Strongly shut down critics of then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to protest police violence against people of color by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem in 2016. Here is one of Long’s several December 22 tweets on the subject: “ZERO interest in being used as the anti-Colin. I support Colin’s right to protest, and what he’s protesting. He deserves a job in the NFL. He’s donated as much $ as I have to social causes.” The 49ers chose to part ways from Kaepernick, 30, after the 2016 season and none of the remaining 31 NFL teams chose to offer him a contract. Kaepernick sued the NFL and its owners for collusion — that suit is still pending.
  • February 2018: Wins his second consecutive Super Bowl ring, helping the Philadelphia Eagles hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in team history. In case you’ve been under a rock the past month, the Eagles defeated his former team, the Patriots, 41-33, in what became instant classic.

 

Chris Long

Chris Long, after winning Super Bowl LII with the Philadelphia Eagles (Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

  • February 2018: Three weeks after winning Super Bowl LII, Long and his climbing mates “Conquer Kili” again!

 

This time around, Long and trip co-skipper, former U.S. Army Green Beret Nate Boyer, led a team of 12 — plus video crew — on the climb. Rams linebacker and eco-athlete Connor Barwin became the first active NFLer other than Long to take part. While he was with the Eagles, Barwin, a supporter of Waterboys for the past two seasons, rode his bike and/or took mass transit to work and helped install solar panels on roofs in South Jersey. And, in another “Conquering Kili” first, a professional athlete from a sport other than football joined the group: Professional MMA fighter Justin Wren is a long time advocate for clean water through his work with the Mbuti Pygmies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As far as Long is concerned, I cannot wrap my head around the idea that he could climb Kilimanjaro almost immediately after two grueling, physically punishing Super Bowl runs.

As the University of Virginia alum explained to SI.com’s Peter King on February 14, “I spend time outside. I hike, I trek, I climb. Doing it halfway around the world for eight days is different. But the toughest part is the altitude. Lots of people make it. But even the fittest guys struggle. Last year, we had a vet, an ultra-marathoner, totally bad-ass guy, who had to turn around. Altitude didn’t agree with him.”

But, somehow, Long was able to summit. Again, from his Valentine’s Day chat with Peter King: “You start in a rainforest, move into the high desert, and on the sixth day, you’re summitting, and you’re on a glacier, and you’re on top of Africa. It’s quite amazing.”

What is even more amazing is Long’s ability to generate real results for Tanzanians through his consistent commitment and generosity of spirit.

Results: The 2018 “Conquering Kili” class set a Kilimanjaro-level fundraising goal of $150,000 to support the climb and to construct clean water wells. As of February 13, the class had raised $68,000. The projects funded this year add to the four wells that have already been constructed through the “Conquering Kili” by previous classes.

Consistent Commitment: Long, again talking to SI.com’s King: “The awareness for our cause, clean water in east Africa … this is our best platform. The world water crisis is huge, and it means so much to me that we’ve been able to raise enough money to build 32 wells [through Waterboys; several other wells have been built through “Conquering Kili”] in such desperate areas.”

Generosity of Spirit: Once more, as part of the Long-King chat: “It’s a cool opportunity to involve all of my passions—my foundation, my life, helping active and retired NFL dudes, and then our military. They have a need, a void, for service. Some vets want to get involved in a cause bigger than selves. And this is such a great cause.”

 

Long instagram 1

Long and his 2018 “Conquering Kili” team at the summit of Kilimanjaro (Photo credit: Chris Long/Instagram)

 

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Chris Long wears the ubiquitous (at least in the Philadelphia area) dog mask — it symbolizes the Eagles’ underdog status throughout its playoff/Super Bowl run — at the Kilimanjaro summit (Photo credit: Chris Long/Instagram)

 


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GSB News and Notes: Manchester City Promotes Energy Storage to its Supporters; Land Rover BAR Pushes to Win America’s Cup and the Climate Change Fight; Jenny Vrentas of SI.com Decries U.S Exit from Paris Climate Agreement

Manchester City continues the greening of the English Premier League by entering into a partnership with Eaton and Nissan that will promote home energy storage units to fans. Land Rover BAR, in Bermuda to try to bring the America’s Cup to Great Britain for the first time, continues its winning sustainability performance, going all in on the climate change fight. And Jenny Vrentas, the excellent NFL reporter for si.com’s fantastic MMQB blog, writes about the U.S exit from the Paris Climate Agreement. All in all, it’s a busy GSB News & Notes Tuesday.

 

NISSAN AND EATON HELP MANCHESTER CITY AND ITS FANS GO GREEN

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was originally planned to be posted on what turned out to be the day after the tragic terrorist attack in Manchester, England. We decided not to run it then and are offering it today instead. 

Manchester City, third place finishers in the recently completed 2016-17 English Premier League football/soccer season, is owned in large part (86 percent to be exact) by oil barons from Abu Dhabi. Their stadium is named after Etihad Airlines. With that pedigree, the club seems an unlikely Green-Sports innovator.

But Green-Sports innovators they are.

In a sponsorship deal announced in May, US-based battery storage developer Eaton agreed to market its xStorage Home Energy Storage Units—developed using recycled batteries from existing Man City sponsor Nissan electric vehicles (EVs) and manufactured at that company’s Sunderland, England plant—to supporters of the Light Blues.

According to “Soccer Meets Storage,” a story by Madeline Cuff in the May 12 issue of GreenBiz, City fans will receive “targeted content about energy storage across Man City channels over the coming weeks, including via the club’s website, app and at ‘certain moments’ during games. Die-hard fans also will be able to purchase a limited-edition Man City-branded storage unit for their homes.”

 

Eaton video (1:02) promoting its xStorage home energy storage units runs on Manchester City’s website. (Credit: City Football Group)

 

Speaking to reporters, Tom Glick, Chief Commercial Officer of City Football Group, which owns Manchester City, as well as New York City FC (NYCFC) of Major League Soccer and other clubs around the world, said “Our job is to help bring [home energy storage] to life: help to raise its profile, to tell a story, help to reach a big audience.”

Take a moment to re-read that quote.

Do you agree with me that having a high ranking executive from one of the most valuable group of sports teams in the world say publicly that bringing the home energy storage sector to life is part of its job is a big deal?

More Glick: “Our ability to reach millions of people in the U.K., and indeed around the world, to be able to convey the message about sustainability but also benefit for their own personal situation is right there for us.” He added that “phase two” of the deal could involve Eaton outfitting Etihad Stadium with its storage products.

Why is Eaton making what is likely a sizable sponsorship investment in Man City? Because 1) the club is a perennial contender for the Premier League crown, having won it twice in the past six seasons, and 2) the residential storage unit market is poised for rapid growth in the U.K.

On the latter point, and per Ms. Cuff’s GreenBiz piece, as of year-end 2016, only about 2,000 such units were installed in homes across Great Britain but “analysts predict it will grow 70 percent this year as costs fall and consumers become more comfortable with the technology.” And that is expected to be just the beginning.

Eaton is poised to be a big player in the home energy storage category in the U.K. with xStorage installations expected to begin in July. As well as storing power, the battery packs also can feed energy back to the grid during times of peak demand.

Eaton’s initial target market is solar powered homes, as they currently stand to gain the most financially from installing a storage device and minimizing use of grid power. According to Ms. Cuff, “Nissan and Eaton claim the average home in the U.K. with a 3kW rooftop solar installation could save around $55.61 per month by installing its entry level 4.2kWh xStorage Home unit.”

Beyond the Nissan-Eaton partnership, sustainability has taken a deep hold at Man City:

  • Etihad Stadium is part of a sports, community and business hub that sits on what was a largely toxic and unusable heavy industry site. In its place are City Football Academy; the National Squash Centre; the Manchester Institute of Health and Performance; the National Indoor BMX (cycling) centre and a Velodrome.

 

City Redev edie.net

Aerial view of City Football Group’s sports, community and business hub, with the Etihad Stadium in the middle of the picture. (Photo credit: Edie.net)

 

  • Absorption chillers, and combined heat & power systems (CHP) help to export electricity to the grid and thus reduce carbon emissions.
  • Air-source heat pumps, rainwater harvesting, bore hole water and LED lighting have also been fitted across the campus to deliver results.
  • All waste water from ground activities is recycled and re-used across the City Football Academy and the Etihad Stadium.

 

LAND ROVER BAR KEEPS FIGHT FOR CLEAN OCEANS AND CLIMATE CHANGE FRONT AND CENTER AS IT WORKS TO WIN GREAT BRITAIN’S FIRST AMERICA’S CUP

One would think that the skipper, crew and support staff for Land Rover BAR, the British entry in the 35th America’s Cup Presented by Louis Vuitton taking place in Bermuda, would be focused on one thing and one thing only over the next month: Becoming the first team to win the trophy for the U.K. in the 166 year history of the race. And, rest assured, the squad is hyper-focused.

But, working with Exclusive Sustainability Partner 11th Hour Racing, Land Rover BAR is demonstrating it can go all out to win while also going all in on its very public campaign that promotes 1) a clean, healthy marine environment and 2) climate change.

As far as the racing is concerned, Land Rover BAR and skipper Sir Ben Ainslie made it through last week’s qualifiers and are facing off against Emirates Team New Zealand in this week’s challengers’ playoffs. The Kiwis own a 2-0 lead over Land Rover BAR in the best 5-of-9 series, winning the opening races on Monday after the British boat suffered damage to its wing, which required the team to abandon the first race and forfeit the second in order to do the necessary repairs. But things can turn around quickly with two more races set for tomorrow, two for Wednesday and up to three more on Thursday – this series runs as a “first-to-win five races,” so the numbers of actual races sailed will depend on the results. The winner will face the winner of the Artemis Racing (Sweden) – SoftBank Team Japan duel, tied 1-1 after Monday’s action, in the challengers’ playoffs finals, scheduled for June 10-12. The survivor will then match up in the final series vs. Oracle Team USA, the current holder of the America’s Cup, beginning on June 17.

While Land Rover BAR’s results on the water are still to be determined, its sustainability initiatives are already proven winners. This is due, in large part, because the team and 11th Hour Racing are leveraging the “Power of Partnership,” encouraging and working with the team’s many global, British and Bermudian corporate and nonprofit partners (BT, Aberdeen Asset Management and Low Carbon to name but a few), to engage their stakeholders (employees, consumers, etc) to take specific positive environmental actions. The partners were provided a toolkit that shows them how to seed a new environmental action each week during the month-long America’s Cup homestretch, starting the week of May 22nd.

  • Say No to Single Use Plastics (w/o 5/22)
  • Go Meat Free on Mondays (w/o 5/29): Talk about a win-win-win: Cutting meat from one’s diet one day per week helps slow climate change, protect the environment and improve one’s health.
  • Consume Only Sustainable Seafood, Including Lionfish (w/o 6/5): Scheduled to coincide with World Oceans Day. 70 percent of the world’s fisheries are overexploited, or have already suffered a collapse. Invasive lionfish have no natural predators in the Atlantic—and are particularly problematic in Bermuda. They threaten native ecosystems including coral reefs. During the run up to the America’s Cup Finals, 11th Hour Racing spearheaded an #EatLionfish educational campaign in Bermuda. With World Oceans Day taking place June 8, this is a great week to, per Land Rover BAR, “Eat ’em to Beat ’em!”

 

Lionfish

 

  • Promote and Use Renewable Energy (w/o 6/12)
  • Recycle Unwanted Materials (w/o 6/19)

 

These programs are just the latest examples of Land Rover BAR’s Best-In-Class sustainability track record, including its BREEAM Excellent (akin to LEED Gold) home base in Portsmouth, England, to its Life Cycle Assessment approach to carbon efficiency, and much more. Per a recent press release, these efforts are designed to keep the team consistent with the tenets of the Paris Climate Agreement, doing its part in the effort to reduce global carbon emissions by 80 percent over the next 30 years.

 

 

JENNY VRENTAS OF SI.COM’S MONDAY MORNING QB OPINES ABOUT U.S. EXIT FROM PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT

Jenny Vrentas is a fantastic sportswriter, covering the NFL for Sports Illustrated’s popular Monday Morning Quarterback site—it reaches 1 million readers monthly. Her stories on the varied aspects of the league’s potentially existential concussion issues are informative and illuminating. This week, she substituted for the vacationing Peter King, the site’s Grand Poobah, penning her version of the must-read (for pro football fans) MMQB column, a detailed, insider’s view of the news, rumors and nuggets surrounding the NFL.

 

Vrentas

Jenny Vrentas, from si.com’s MMQB blog. (Photo credit: Twitter)

 

So imagine my pleasant surprise when Ms. Vrentas, near the very end of MMQB, in the TEN THINGS I THINK I THINK section, in the “I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week” subsection, included the following as her items c and d:

c. I was trying to find a smart link between the urgency of the fight against climate change and sports. This was the best I could do.

d. A better idea would be to simply link to this video of climate change happening, a section of ice the size of the tip of Manhattan calving from a glacier in Greenland.

I think I thought two things upon reading this:

  1. Welcome to the Green-Sports movement, Jenny Vrentas, even if you aren’t aware you’ve joined!
  2. You can find plenty of smart links between the climate change fight and sports right here at GreenSportsBlog!

 


 

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