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An Interview with Lew Blaustein About His Push for the ‘Greening’ of the Sports World

Chester Energy and Policy
by Matt Chester

This is a re-post of Matt Chester’s interview with Lew Blaustein of The Green Sports Blog.

The Green Sports Blog is one of the premiere websites covering the intersection of sports with the worlds of energy, the environment, and climate change. Publishing at least once or twice a week, this blog spreads awareness of the eco-athletes in the big leagues, provides commentary and analysis of the latest green initiatives in sports, and is a one-stop shop for this growing field of study. I had the opportunity to speak with Lew Blaustein, the writer behind the Green Sports Blog, and ask him some pressing questions I had as both an energy nut and a sports fanatic. And if after reading my interview with Mr. Blaustein you feel compelled to learn more, I highly recommend you head to the Green Sports Blog and sign up to receive email alerts when new articles are published and follow him on Twitter as well.

2018.04.25-Lew Blaustein Interview-IMAGE

My conversation with Lew Blaustein:

Chester Energy and Policy: First off, Lew, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to speak with me about the work you’re doing at the intersection of energy and sports, a topic that I think doesn’t get enough attention. I have a couple of questions I’d love to ask to get some more insight into your work and the difference you’re hoping to make in the sports industry as it relates to energy.

Lew Blaustein: Sure, fire away!

Chester: To start with the basics, why sports? What drew you to investigate and highlight the intersection of sports with green issues?

Blaustein: Well I would say that the question should really be the other way around. I always wanted to work in sports ever since I was about seven years old, but I knew I was a crummy athlete, so I first tried sportscasting, which was a very tough way to make a living. Then I tried sports business– ad sales, business development, promotions, marketing, communications, and I did that for over 15 years.

Through all of this I always considered myself a ‘lowercase e’ environmentalist, but my passion for it did not rise to the level of my sports passion until 9/11 occurred. I was always living and working in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state area, and when 9/11 happened I was working for Sports Illustrated for Kids. In the wake of the attacks, though, I felt I had to do something, but what was that something? I really didn’t know, but then about three or four months after that Thomas L. Friedman, an author and columnist with the New York Times, wrote a column that said green is the new red, white, and blue. The idea was that the United States at that time comprised about 4% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s energy use, as this was before the fracking boom, domestic production boom, and the rise of India and China to any large degree (now we’re closer to 4% of population and about 20% of energy use). So, Friedman made the point that our insanely profligate energy use was fueling the terrorism that we were fighting. That really resonated with me. I thought it was this bipartisan type issue that everyone would want to reduce our country’s energy demand.

I was inspired– I went out and bought a hybrid car (eventually I just got rid of my car, since you can do that in New York City), I changed all my light bulbs, I almost became vegetarian, all these sorts of things. As time went on, I got schooled on climate change, and so then it made even more sense. So, I went off in 2005 and left Sports Illustrated for Kids and became a communications/business development/marketing consultant with a sustainability focus.

Then a few years later, around 2008 or 2009, I started thinking what if there was an intersection of green and sports and how cool that would be, given my duel passions. In short order, I found out about the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) and poked around some more and in 2013 I decided to start this blog because no one else was doing anything like it. I thought this would help me get to know all the people in that world (small as it was and still is) and that would help me build my consulting business, which has happened to a degree. Then it turns out that people like the blog and so that’s how that all came to be.

Read the full interview 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.)

The Green Sports Alliance Takes Sustainability on the Road with ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot

Erik Distler-headshot

 

 

Erik Distler
Senior Resource Specialist | Green Sports Alliance

 

In September 2015, the Green Sports Alliance and ESPN launched an exciting collaboration focused on ensuring ESPN’s proprietary events maintain and evolve a legacy of environmental stewardship. First up was tackling sustainability at the ever-popular, weekly college football tradition, College GameDay.

Official ESPN Logo Color Positive Logo

Over the course of the past season, bright and early on the show’s college campus set, along with passionate college football fans and students, sustainability was in action. The Green Sports Alliance traveled with College GameDay throughout the season to help ensure commitments around minimizing the show’s environmental impact were met, and to educate and inspire action through engaging university students, faculty and staff, as well as fans.

Key aspects of this work included: organizing a waste management program focused on landfill diversion through compost and recycling streams; meeting with university leaders and touring campus sustainability highlights to collect best practices and case examples from the season; enlisting student volunteers and sustainability groups to assist in waste diversion; and educating students and fans on broad sports sustainability efforts, and of course specifically at ESPN.

The Green Sports Alliance conducted this work by leaning on its experience, expertise and network within the sports industry, which extends through members from more than 330 sports teams and venues from 20 different sports leagues and 14 countries. The collaboration with ESPN also aligns with the organization’s mission and purpose focused on inspiring the sports industry and its stakeholders to embrace sustainability practices by leveraging the cultural and market influence of sports.

College GameDay has a cemented legacy on Saturday mornings in the fall. The Green Sports Alliance was proud to collaborate with ESPN to attach to this legacy sustainability where, regardless of the game’s final score, everyone wins!

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