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: January 16, 2009 6:08 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2009 6:57 pm

Jon Gruden/Bruce Allen Out of Work in Tampa Bay

The worst controlled news always breaks after 5pm ET on Friday evenings.  Always.  It's the most down time of the news cycle on most given weeks.

Check the virtual press release time-stamps on the stories for all Hollywood couples getting divorced.  Or stars going to rehab.  Or in this case, an NFL team gutting it's heretofore successful front office and coaching staff starting right at the top.

Adam Schefter is on NFL Network right now reporting that Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen have been let go in Tampa Bay.  This news will certainly send shockwaves throughout the NFL community, as Gruden will instantly become a hot commodity on the open coaching market.  And to think that teams like the Broncos, Lions and Browns didn't even have a chance to consider Chuckie!  Then again, Detroit themselves didn't do so well with their last coach who was poached from Tampa Bay's staff.

But man, where does Tampa Bay go from here?  Paging Tampa-resident, former Bucs coaching great and recent NFL retiree Tony Dungy!

Is St. Louis settled on their guy (Garrett?) or do they want time to go after Gruden now?  What about the Jets?  Do you think Brett Favre would work his tail off one more season or two under Gruden?

And Schefter brings up a great point as the report continues...how Al Davis ultimately got a little revenge with the Raiders knocking the Bucs out of the playoffs in the final regular season game of 2008.  Had Tampa made the playoffs, odds are both of his former charges would still be employed by the Bucs.

Speaking of the Raiders...although they only won five games in 2008, three of the teams they beat have dumped their coaches (NYJ, DEN and now TB) and it seems likely that another team they beat, the Chiefs, may be ready to make a coaching move; although that talk seems to be quieting down and maybe **Scott Pioli will stick with Herm Edwards for at least a season?  Anyway, it appears that a loss to the Raiders has turned into a death knell for a head coach these days, which doesn't speak to the respect that the rest of the league has for the sputtering Oakland franchise.

Mike Shanahan being let go in Denver after a rare late-season collapse was a real shocker, and now a second firing of the same magnitude.  The NFL coaching hot seat is definitely at Code Red.

**Is everybody in football a "close friend" of this guy?  He might be the most social football executive in history.  Married to a Parcells daughter.  Close to Bill Belichick, to whom no one seems close to.  Tight with Kirk Ferentz at Iowa.  Now we learn he's a good pal of Bill Cowher.  I just performed a google search of scott pioli friend.  Seems like he does have quite a few around the sport.

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