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:
While everyone is talking brackets and buckets (and even spring training!) I'm still basking in the glow of the Winter Paralympic Games that wrapped up this past weekend in Russia. And rightly so. The coverage in the US was a dramatic improvement over past Paralympic games, winter or summer. Feedback and comments from athletes, coaches and staff was overwhelmingly positive, even with at-times "sketchy" snow conditions for several of the alpine events.
Before that glow slowly fades, I wanted to share several stories from in and around the Sochi Winter Paralympic Games that caught my eye. They bring to light important issues around all sports - be it for people with disabilities or not - that resonate with the underlying vision of what Sports and Social Change is about...
When does someone know they've "arrived?" Is there a moment in time when you look around and seemingly out of nowhere, somebody or something has bubbled up into the public consciousness? For the Paralympic Games and athletes with disabilities, that moment may be approaching faster than a slalom gate.
The 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi are heading into the final weekend, already hitting record ticket sales for a winter event and racking up broadcast and streaming views well beyond what was seen - and quite frankly technologically possible - four years ago in Vancouver. Just 18 months ago, the 2012 Paralympic Summer Games in London marked what was certainly a watershed moment in raising the profile of sports for people with disabilities, and the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games have been able to build on that momentum through a nice mix of emerging corporate partnerships,expanded broadcast coverage as well as some clever merchandising.
The Paralympic Winter Games are set to begin later this week in Sochi, Russia. There are 5 sports scheduled over the course of 9 days, including Alpine Skiing & Snowboarding, Cross Country Skiing, Biathlon, Sled Hockey and Curling, with over 575 athletes representing 45 countries. Opening Ceremonies will be broadcast live in the US on Friday 3/07 at 11:00am EST.
If you'd like to stay connected to all that's going on with the Paralympic Winter Games, here are some details and links to follow...