test
Blog Archives

Can Sports Teams Be Role Models for Inclusivity?

By Susan Hunt Stevens, WeSpire

2018.07.26-Role Models for Inclusivity-IMAGE

Photo credit: The George Voice https://thegavoice.com/sports/atlanta-hawks-welcome-lgbt-ally-fans/

Last week, I had the honor of speaking on the mainstage at the 8th annual Green Sports Alliance Summit. It was my second time speaking, but six years ago the topic was what you would expect from WeSpire at a sustainability conference:  how to inspire people to save energy, waste, water and fuel. This year, the topic was “Inclusive Culture: How to Create Safe and Empowered Workplaces and Fan Zones.” As I sat on the stage with the first ever head of diversity for an NBA team, Nzinga Shaw from the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena, I reflected on how much convergence has taken place in the sustainability and diversity and inclusion fields, which has directly influenced how WeSpire has evolved to meet these needs.

Green Sports Alliance Board member Jen Regan, who facilitated the panel, said they added diversity and inclusion as a focus to the Summit because “our ability to improve the environment is intrinsically linked with our ability to include all members of our community. The Green Sports Alliance wants to set the leaders of the sports industry up to win for now and the future which means focusing on both social and environmental impact.” We’ve seen similar expansions at other major sustainability conferences like Greenbiz and Sustainable Brands. What links these two seemingly disparate topics are actually similar underpinnings: urgent need for changes in practices and behaviors, a rapidly changing culture, the need for alignment amongst business practices (ie are you really a sustainable company if you are net zero but turn a blind eye to racial discrimination) and the ability for the “right thing to do” to also be the “smart thing to do” in terms of ROI.

I found the journey of the Atlanta Hawks to be incredibly compelling. What inspired hiring a Chief Diversity Officer initially was a crisis – driven by racially tinged, disparaging remarks made by a now former owner and coach. What has emerged is a playbook for how a professional sports team can be a role model for a community of what inclusivity looks like. And how valuable that is to the team, employees and fans. As the CEO of the Atlanta Hawks said, “We don’t see ourselves as a sports team. We see ourselves as a cultural touchstone for Atlanta. We see ourselves as a unifying force that brings together black, white, Muslim, [and] Jewish [people]. Everyone can agree on wanting a great sports team in Atlanta. So the ownership changed, the culture has changed, and we’re just in the infancy of it.”

Read the full story.

Jim Spellos, Rock and Wrap It Up! Partner to Fight Food Waste

By Tyler Davidson, Meetings Today

Rock and Wrap It Up! Food Donations

Rock and Wrap It Up! Food Donations

While he’s known as one of the top meetings technology educators in the industry, a lesser-known aspect of Jim Spellos’ contribution to both the meetings industry and those with an acute need of nutrition is his efforts working with Rock and Wrap It Up!, an award-winning anti-poverty think tank.

Rock and Wrap It Up! started, as the name implies, as a charitable organization that primarily worked picking up leftover food from concerts and then delivering that food to the needy. The organization, now entering its 27th year, has since expanded the specialized services it offers to help those in need.

“I went there and I was a converted from that point,” said Spellos, who is the group’s director of digital media, about how he got involved with the organization founded by Syd Mandelbaum, its CEO.

Spellos has been working with the organization for 16 years.

Besides food donation, Rock and Wrap It Up! dedicates it efforts to the following projects:

  • The Mardi Bra Initiative, which raises awareness and encourages the collection of feminine hygiene products for at-risk teens and other women.
  • Feed the Veterans, which aims to get its databases of pantries and soup kitchens into the hands of caregivers and agencies that support at-risk veterans and their families.
  • Providing Whole Earth Calculator Climate Literacy Lesson Plans to its academic partners to enable students to undertake actions to reduce poverty and carbon footprints.

Read the full article here.

LGBTQ Youth Athletes Should ​‘Play Proud’

By Coco McPherson, Good Sports

Whether you call it soccer, football, or “the beautiful game,” it’s a global phenomenon.

Played in stadiums, in streets, and in dusty fields all over the world, the game will seize the international spotlight later in June when Russia hosts the 2018 FIFA World Cup in 11 cities — from Sochi to St. Petersburg.

Play Proud is a vital new initiative from Streetfootballworld USA designed to protect some of soccer’s most vulnerable players, and June is Pride Month.

The face of the campaign is American soccer star Megan Rapinoe, a member of the 2015 World Cup team that won gold in Vancouver, Canada. Rapinoe plays for the Seattle Reign FC, one of the founding teams of the National Women’s Soccer League. Proudly out, Rapinoe says that growing up, she would have benefitted from Play Proud’s core mandate of making youth soccer more inclusive and coaches more aware.

Rapinoe believes sports environments have traditionally not been safe spaces for LGBTQ youth, but she hopes this initiative will help change that for the next generation.

Sometimes kids in the sports system can feel like they’re alone or like they don’t have anybody to talk to,” she said in the promotional video for the campaign. “Coaches want to do what’s right, they just don’t know how or they don’t know how to get  information.”

Play Proud is the brainchild of Lilli Barrett-O’Keefe, regional manager for Streetfootballworld USA, a global network of over 125 soccer-based non-profits in 80 countries helping to tackle social issues impacting young people. These include homelessness, gender-based violence, and gang culture. Now, having seen a tremendous need, Play Proud seeks to make youth soccer a safe space by educating coaches and staff about the challenges facing LGBTQ youth.

Among those challenges: a widespread perception that their communities don’t accept them and that youth sports is not safe or welcoming, which is likely preventing participation. According to recent data, LGBTQ youth are twice as likely as their peers to be physically assaulted in school and half as likely to participate in organized sports.

Read the full article here.

Welcome to the Green Sports Alliance News Feed & Blog. We do our best to keep up with new and noteworthy stories in the world of green sports, but if we've missed something, please drop us a line and let us know! Use the search function below or click through our archive to find past postings.
SPORTS MEMBERS INCLUDE...
404
TOTAL SPORTS MEMBERS
194
TEAMS
194
VENUES
16
LEAGUES