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Future of game, environment discussed at Hockey SENSE

Environmental sustainability, equality focus of conversations

By Dave Stubbs


TORONTO — The Hockey Hall of Fame celebrates much that is great about the sport’s past, honoring its legendary names and iconic moments. Early Monday morning, the shrine was home to a large gathering focused on the future. Not just of the sport, but of the planet.

Assembling in the Hall of Fame’s Great Hall among the priceless trophies and plaques of those inducted through the decades were some 250 dignitaries, educators, NHL alumni and members of the wide hockey community.

The group was taking part in Hockey SENSE, an NHL and NHL Players’ Association summit that explored and interactively discussed social equality issues and sustainable environments in hockey.

Beginning with a breakfast-time session of networking, Hockey SENSE adjourned upstairs to the Great Hall for a full morning of workshops and presentations on hot-button issues in hockey that are felt well beyond the sport.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr opened the session in a discussion with host Elliotte Friedman, discussing the importance to the League and its players of social equality and environmental sustainability.

“We’re finding ourselves in a unique and challenging time throughout the world,” Commissioner Bettman said. “We can use hockey as the universal language to bring the world together with an event like this. With constituents from throughout the world, we can show that hockey can represent diversity and inclusiveness, which are kind of environmental issues on their own, and tie them to using sport as a platform to raise consciousness about what we can do to make a more sustainable planet.

Read the full story at NHL.com

Discussion at the White House on Tackling Climate Change Through Sports

Full blog post by Tanya Somanader

Athletes pose in front of a basketball hoop after participating in a meeting to discuss climate action and preparedness at the White House.

Athletes and Green Sports Alliance Board of Director members pose in front of a basketball hoop after participating in a meeting to discuss climate action and preparedness at the White House.

This year, the Opening Ceremony in Rio celebrated the culture of Brazil but also took the opportunity to remind the world the threat and challenges climate change pose to people around the world, including athletes. A few athletes — Olympians among them — came to the White House to discuss exactly how climate change is impacting the world of sports. Olympic snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler and former NFL football player Ovie Mughelli jumped on twitter to answer a few questions about this issue:

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Read the full blog post which includes Q&A videos with the President and First Lady.

Share your input on tackling climate change through sports here.

Green Movement Must Tap Into Power of Athletes

SportsBusiness Journal
Published July 11, 2016
By Abraham D. Madkour, Executive Editor

“You can use your voice for good, but if you don’t really care about the cause or believe in it, it’s not worth trying to force it.” Brody Leven, Adventure Skier

“You can use your voice for good, but if you don’t really care about the cause or believe in it, it’s not worth trying to force it.”
Brody Leven, Adventure Skier

The green sports “movement” continues its momentum, but sitting in on a day at the 2016 Green Sports Alliance Summit in Houston last month, there was a clear theme of who’s missing from this progress: today’s athletes.

There seems to be buy-in among many C-level sports executives, and everyone agreed that any successful environmental program comes from the top down. But athletes are a powerful constituency who are largely sitting on the sideline when it comes to supporting environmental and sustainability causes.

There are certainly exceptions: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Andrew Ference has been a leader in this space for years and was honored at the summit with the GSA’s Environmental Leadership Award. He is an impressive young man. Former NBA MVP Steve Nash is another athlete frequently cited for his efforts.

But in moderating two panels — one with team executives, one with current/former athletes and advocates — I was struck by a consistency of message. Environmental and sustainable programs are working on the team level; fans want and appreciate them; and they are good business. Most importantly, CEOs and ownership largely believe it is the right thing to do. But it was said time and again that to increase effectiveness of these efforts, players must become more involved.

As one team executive told me, “We’re doing some great things, but we just can’t get the players engaged.”

There were a number of reasons cited: the difficulty of understanding complex issues while focusing to be the best on the field; lack of financial opportunities tied to environmental causes; and the political and passionate nature surrounding such causes. There also was frustration among athletes for being called out by environmental advocates if they didn’t fully understand the issues or lead a dedicated “green life.” One remarked, “You get criticized for what you drive or the house you have, but you still need to live your life.” Polarization around the issues was cited, as well. One player said he tried to get teammates involved in a green-friendly “tailgate” event, but they hesitated, wanting first to check with their marketing managers in fear of upsetting any segment of their fan bases.

Read the full article here.

(Please note that a subscription to SportsBusiness Journal is required to see full article text.)

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