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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:

2016.08.22-Newsfeed-White House Blog-IMAGE2

2016.08.22-Newsfeed-White House Blog-IMAGE3

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.)

Oilers’ Ference Wins Environmental Leadership Award

By NHL Green @NHL / NHL.com

Image courtesy of NHL

Image courtesy of NHL

NHL Captain, Defensemen, and Stanley Cup Champion, Andrew Ference, received the 2016 Environmental Leadership Award from the Green Sports Alliance during a ceremony at the organization’s Summit in Houston, Texas earlier this month.

Ference joins an impressive list of past recipients, including: New York Yankees Vice President of Stadium Operations, Doug Behar (2015), National Hockey League Commissioner, Gary Bettman (2014), Philadelphia Eagles Owner, Christina Weiss Lurie (2013), and Major League Baseball Commissioner Emeritus Allan H. (Bud) Selig (2012).

The Environmental Leadership Award is bestowed to an individual who, according to the Green Sports Alliance, “has demonstrated leadership and has provided significant contributions to environmental sustainability — spurring environmental innovation at the team, venue, league or fan level, as well as helping to advance the entire industry.”

In addition to receiving this Award, Ference will join the Green Sports Alliance’s Board of Directors.

Ference has been passionately advocating climate change for over a decade, long involved in a multitude of environmental and community initiatives, including but not exclusive of: The November Project, an initiative that fosters free exercise and community engagement for people of all ages and athletic abilities, the Hope Mission Shelter, which seeks to better Edmonton’s homeless population, and You Can Play, an NHL initiative advancing equality and respect for the LGBT community. In 2014, Ference received the King Clancy Memorial Trophy: an honor awarded to the player who “best exhibits leadership qualities on and off the ice, and who has made a notable humanitarian contribution in his community.”

Ference was joined at the 2016 GSA Summit by fellow environmental advocates Simon Després of the Anaheim Ducks and NHL alumni Mike Richter.

Read the full story and watch the inspirational video on Ference produced by Oilers Entertainment Group here.