For most people, the "green" they think of when it comes to sports is either the grass on the field or the significant amount of money the industry generates. However, there's a growing movement to raise the bar on another green topic in the sports world - environmental responsibility. And I had the opportunity to be at the epicenter of that movement last week at the Green Sports Summit, an annual gathering of sports business professionals who are exploring ways to build a more sustainable and environmentally friendly sports experience for all.
The annual event is organized by the Green Sports Alliance, a nonprofit formed in 2010 with deep "organic" roots in professional sports including founding franchises Seattle Seahawks, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Storm, Vancouver Canucks along with the Natural Resources Defense Council and Paul Allen's Vulcan, Inc. In 4 short years, they have grown the alliance to include over 240 pro & collegiate sports teams, venues and strong relationships with the NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB, MLS and NLL.
The 2014 Green Sports Summit was a great opportunity for sharing of best practices and examples of what's possible in creating a sports experience that leaves a very small environmental footprint. There were a wide range of presentations around construction topics, energy efficiency & lighting, recycling & composting, sustainable purchasing & sourcing, and transportation. I was drawn to more of the marketing and event discussions, as those intersect with the work we do around Cause Marketing and CSR, but everything I attended was extremely insightful and definitely valuable.
Here are 3 things I learned at the 2014 Green Sports Summit:
ASSOCIATED SPORTS: Tennis
CAUSES SERVED: Athletics, Children & Youth, Education, Literacy, Community, Health
AGE GROUPS SERVED: Children & Youth
The one-on-one mental and physical challenge that tennis presents often creates something very special in the world of sports. Pure athletic ability only goes so far, and success on the court requires strategy and planning, knowledge of your opponent, quick decision-making skills, and complete focus – much like life itself. And with tennis there are overarching elements of self-awareness, discipline and sportsmanship, which add to its value as a great platform for youth development.
In the greater Boston area, Tenacity has taken all that tennis offers and combined it with a comprehensive academic and mentoring program which serves thousands of at-risk youth every year, building a 15-year winning streak that would make Federer or Nadal jealous. We asked the team at Tenacity to give us a deeper look inside their program and share their thoughts on what makes a winner on the court and in the classroom.
On the eve of the World Cup last week, we were thrilled to host sports and entertainment industry professionals from around Southern California who gathered to celebrate the big event and share in their passion for soccer as a platform for social good. Along with our co-hosts Sports Studio, we welcomed supporters representing countries from around the globe including Mexico, Italy, Germany, Columbia, Argentina, Brazil and the USA, making their predictions for early exits (Spain!) and deep runs (Costa Rica?) into the knockout round.
Joining us on the night were several amazing nonprofit soccer organizations and social enterprise brands, each with their own unique approach to using the "beautiful game" as a platform for change...
Kings vs Blackhawks and Heat vs Spurs have been getting all of the press recently. While those have become great sports rivalries, they have nothing on Blondes vs. Brunettes, a highly competitive rivalry that likely predates all of pro sports. And this past Saturday, that played out at the Los Angeles edition of the Blondes vs. Brunettes Flag Football Game benefitting the Alzheimer's Association California Southland Chapter.
Blondes vs. Brunettes is a volunteer-driven event that raises awareness and funds for the Alzheimer’s Association. Two teams of women – divided to reflect the age-old rivalry between blondes and brunettes – compete in a flag football game to help end Alzheimer’s. The participants also recruit coaches, announcers and other volunteers to build an atmosphere of fierce, friendly competition. Leading up to game day, the two teams participate in a series of events to socialize and increase awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. (via Alzheimer's Association)
This past weekend's game in Los Angeles is one of 35 held around the US every year, put on by various chapters of the Alzheimer's Association and spearheaded by their Young Professionals Committee. "Blondes vs. Brunettes founders Sara Allen Abbott and Ryan Triplette each had a personal connection to Alzheimer's and wanted to create an event that would raise funds for the Alzheimer's Association and generate awareness and concern about the disease among other young professionals." (via Alzheimer's Association). The games have raised over $3m since their inception with the Washington DC chapter in 2005, and the California Southland Chapter participants just added another $65,000 to that total with their recent efforts.
And mind you, this was not "Powderpuff" football as advertised - this was intense competition, with high level play calling and strategy, and some very impressive athleticism. That competitive drive was likely fueled by a very personal connection to the cause they were playing for - each player on the field had been impacted by Alzheimer's and was out there representing a family member or loved one. As any athlete knows, when you're playing for something greater than yourself, the intensity goes up and the will to win takes over.
The final result? The Brunettes raised the trophy for a 3rd straight year, and more impressively have yet to give up a point to the Blondes in all 3 games. And the Blondes are not happy about that at all. We expect this rivalry to heat up even more as they gear up for another SoCal showdown in 2015.
For more information on the Alzheimer's Association Blondes vs. Brunettes games and to find one in your city, visit http://blondesvsbrunettes.org and check out more photos from the Los Angeles event here.
By Khalil Garriott
Novak Djokovic is a homegrown superstar revered by his fellow Serbians. He frequently gives back to his country, and it’s commonplace to hear him mention Serbia in post-match interviews after winning yet another tennis trophy.
With his homeland decimated by damage from floods, Djokovic dedicated his Italian Open victory to his native country. He put his money where his mouth is, proudly donating his entire tournament winnings – all $749,934 of them – to the relief efforts in Serbia.
Djokovic rallied to defeat rival Rafael Nadal in three sets to win his third Italian Open on Sunday, putting himself in prime position as the French Open begins May 25. When he drew a heart on the clay to show compassion for his country mates, it was clear he had more important matters than tennis on his mind.
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