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.
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.