Posted on: April 4, 2009 3:41 am

Greening of Sports Needs More Than Awareness

Some of you may have noticed something odd during the highlights of the Charlotte Bobcats-Miami Heat game on Friday night: The Bobcats were wearing green uniforms at home.  Was this a new alternative jersey, a throwback to some team in Charlotte of a bygone era or a tribute to the local college team (UNC Charlotte) with a similar color scheme?  If you guessed none of the above, you're right.

What were the green jerseys representing then?  Something I will give the Bobcats and the NBA much credit for, which is a kick-off of the National Basketball Association’s inaugural Green Week initiative.  The team will wear the duds for their final two home games this season in order to raise awareness about recycling and other eco-friendly programs in Charlotte.

Raymond Felton in Green Bobcats uniform

Also this week, in Philadelphia, the Phillies announced some innovations as part of their Red Goes Green campaign.  Included will be Phil The Can, "[A] talking trash can robot [to remind] fans of the importance of recycling and keeping the ballpark clean."

I know that at this point, just about every major sports team and league has some kind of "We Are Green" platform in place or about to be put in place.  And, hey, awareness is a powerful thing, and I salute these leagues and teams for their efforts.

But I gotta ask, are they really doing all they "can?"  I mean, does Charlotte need to unveil special jerseys to raise awareness?  The perception rates this stunt more like a merchandising/marketing gimmick than environmental activism.

Here's something that I have thought about for years, and even written to some teams about, to no avail.  How about all these organizations cease using paper Gatorade/Coke cups and instead each player is assigned a few reusable bottles, such as those made by EcoCanteen.  I'm not trying to advocate for them, but they are a well-known brand that most people are likely to know.  I mean, if the merchandising/marketing people simply must be involved, these bottles can probably be emblazoned with logos for any team, and they'd be a lot cheaper than jerseys for fans.  Better yet, how about the promotions department giving them away at the door to all fans who come to the "Green Week" games!

But the major point I want to make is to consider how many paper or plastic cups or bottles these teams go through during the course of a season (practices and games, etc.) and multiply it by MLB/NHL/NBA/MLS/NFL/NCAA/et al and the numbers must be staggering.  They could simply eliminate all that paper and plastic waste with a real and tangible change by switching to some kind of reusable bottle.  I'm sure they'll come out and say they recycle the disposable cups and bottles, but how about not using them in the first place?

Soccer and hockey goalies have been using reusable bottles for many years, so I don't think this would be too much to ask from other pro athletes.

Because even if the Phillies have a talking trash-can robot roaming the concourse at Citizens Bank Park extolling fans on the virtues of recycling and all, it doesn't carry that much weight when one takes a look at all the debris lining the dugouts after every game.

Posted on: February 6, 2009 6:58 pm

LeBron Loses Triple-Double

As most everyone knows by now, LeBron James' historic triple-double earlier this week vs. the Knicks at Madison Square Garden is no longer.  The league stated in their release that all games are reviewed for accuracy.  That's actually good.  And I know the NFL does it because you hear from time to time about sacks being given and taken away, among other slight changes.  The only reason we're hearing about this one is because it involved LeBron and moreover another one in what seems like an endless string of legenedary nights in his career.

I also wonder if NBA fantasy leagues are also adjusted, either here on Sportsline or anywhere else?

But the main reason I am posting about this change in statistics is because it reminds me of what I have done (and still do occasionally) as part of my work, and that is being an official statistician at collegiate basketball games, as well as other sports such as soccer, hockey, lacrosse, etc.  One of the things that any official scorer --and their all-important spotter-- needs is a great and unobstructed view of the action.  I recall an article that David Aldridge wrote when he was still on staff at the Philadelphia Inquirer.  I can't find an active link online since he's no longer with the paper.  Anyway, it was in regard to the number of in-game scorer's and statisticians that have been moved to mid-level and even upper-level press/media seating areas.  This is because teams want more and more high-dollar courtside seats to sell.  At the same time, the amount of in-game data provided by the league and the teams increases all the time.  Shot charts, live stats, you name it...you can see the data here on Sportsline or any major sports site on the 'net especially while games are taking place or anytime before or after for posterity.  At the NBA level, they employ a lot of gameday staff to get this job done.  However, some of the spotters, charters and scorers have been moved to less-than-ideal locations in the arenas.  And this makes the statistical reviews that much more vital to getting the stats correct.  When so much is on the line like player performance bonuses and eligibility for post-season awards, it is important to get the stats as correct as possible.  The college games I do are small schools.  We still do a heckuva lot of data with just one scorer like myself working with a spotter.  But we always sit courtside, just about center court.  And it is important to have that proximity to the court and the officials.

I don't know what the situation is at MSG and in no way am I saying the reason for the LeBron/Ben Wallace confusion vs. the Knicks was caused by certain members of the Knick-MSG scoring crew not being at courtside.  But this situation does provide a proper context for rehashing the issue that indeed, around the Association, there are a number of in-game statisticians and spotters spread around the arenas in locations that aren't ideal.  Some guys are working remotely, by-and-large in regular seating.  You can imagine being unable to credit rebounds correctly in certain frenzied situations when guys are passing hot dogs and beer between you and your spotter!

I'm OK with as many fans as possible getting courtside seats.  I mean, there is no question that sitting near the court at an NBA game is about as close to major pro athletes as you can get during live play.  It is a real thrill to be that close.  At the same time, all the teams should be required to seat all scorers courtside as well, even if it means erecting slightly elevated platforms or whatever it might take to squeeze everyone in.  It would be a real shame, for example, if you were at a game that involved a major milestone, only to discover three days later that you didn't actually see it.  Getting all the scorekeepers and statisticians in the best location to do their jobs is the best way to prevent that from happening.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com