Board Member | Green Sports Alliance
Director, Environmental Center | University of Colorado Boulder
Sustainability in college sports and the Green Sports Alliance had a coming out party last month at the 14th annual IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, hosted by SportsBusiness Journal (SBJ).
Along with headliners like NCAA president Mark Emmert, former SEC commissioner Mike Slive, and former NBA commissioner David Stern, sustainability in college sports was for the first time a major focus for the 600+ Athletic Directors, conference commissioners, athletics staff, and rights holders like Learfield, IMG, etc.
SBJ editor and friend of Green Sports Alliance, Abe Madkour kicked off the conference and announced Green Sports Alliance President, Allen Hershkowitz was the newest member of SBJ’s list of Top 50 Most Influential Sports Business Executives. Many in that Top 50 list were in attendance at the swanky Time Square Marriot Marquis for this high brow event.
From there the conference focused on case studies of college sports sustainability successes as presented by Green Sports Alliance members Karen Baebler, Associate AD from the University of Washington and myself, representing the University of Colorado Boulder, and the Green Sports Alliance as a Board member.
The session drew out the advantages of LEED constructed stadia, the cost savings of zero waste, renewable energy and sustainable transport systems and related topics. Also discussed were approaches to sponsorships that engage fans at home, work and play that have been pioneered by big-time sponsors like BASF, Eco-Products, WhiteWave Foods, Pepsi, and others.
One of the other key takeaways from the sustainability session was the realization that while college sports face critical public scrutiny related to costs, labor-relations, spiraling media revenues and salaries and so forth—sports sustainability has no downside. It’s good news, good for the bottom line, and great campus and fan relations. Green Sports Alliance’s recent role alongside higher education at the Paris COP21 Climate Conference received very positive press—as compared to the ongoing criticisms of college sports in the mainstream press.
Overall, Green Sports Alliance had a large and successful debutante ball in Time Square—and we are still dancing!