Have you ever been to a professional sporting event in a stadium or dome? If you have then you have been part of harming the environment. Not only do the stadiums affect the environment, but the spectators do as well, from the trash they use to the emissions from their vehicles on the way to the stadium, they are affecting the environment nearly as much as the sports. Professional sports are an enjoyable experience for many but are slowly, but surely using our valuable resources, such as carbon, water, and energy.
Professional sports are an enjoyable experience for many people. Fans dress up to watch their favorite teams and players. However, sports affect the environment. Sports only add up to a sliver of the forces affecting climate change. Some leagues have made league-wide attempts at lowering their impact on the environment. Major League Baseball teamed up with the NRDC to become the first league to have a league-wide movement to help protect the environment. However, shortly after the MLB, the NHL and the NBA picked up on the initiative as well. As there are league-wide movements there are a few teams that stand out.
The Philadelphia Eagles introduced new green cleaning supplies for their maintenance crew to clean with. Along with that, the Eagles have increased their recycling rate by a whopping 209 percent, but wait, there’s more, the green team from Philadelphia is also offsetting their emissions from their traveling by investing in tree seedlings to plant in parts of Pennsylvania and Louisiana!
The Boston Red Sox have started a program to help the environment as well. The Fenway Greening Program was installed in 2008, which included the installation of enough solar panels to provide 37 percent of the energy at Fenway Park. Fenway Park has switched to Big Belly trash cans to go with that movement, these specific trash cans are solar-powered and collect up to six times as much trash as the old cans.
The Cleveland Indians are the first MLB team to install a wind turbine in front of their stadium. The wind turbine was put in place as part of the “Our Tribe is Green” initiative. Progressive Park also has a long history of recycling in the stadium, which has resulted in a decrease in their waste rate by one-quarter.
Playing baseball in Miami can result in a large consumption of water, so the Marlins decided to install new plumbing systems which have already saved 52 percent of water usage, and rumor has it that upcoming landscape changes to the park, which includes irrigation, will increase that number to 60.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have recycled and reduced waste by 65 percent over the last few years. People say that if you lined up all of the plastic bottles they have recycled at PNC Park you could reach Yankee Stadium in New York, and travel back to PNC Park in Pittsburgh! Not only is the Seattle Mariners stadium one of the most beautiful MLB stadiums, but it also one of the greenest. Since 2006 the Mariners have reduced their use of natural gas by 40 percent, water by 25 percent, and electricity by 25 percent. The electricity is in large part by a new scoreboard which uses 90 percent less power than the old one.
The Washington Nationals are also right up there with the Mariners. They have reduced water consumption by 30 percent, electricity by 21 percent, because of new field lights, and the stadium is near the Anacostia River, so they have special filtration systems to make sure nothing horrible gets in the river. The most interesting thing about the Nationals Park is that the stadium itself is made of 10 percent recycled material.
As part of the NHL league-wide initiative, they have purchased wind energy to offset the energy used. At least five arenas in the NHL are partly solar-powered as well. The NBA has also started a program called “NBA Green” which has resulted in at least six stadiums running on part solar-power and receiving LEED certification from the U.S. Greening Council.
The argument that comes up with sports and helping the environment is whether it is worth spending the extra money to make sports greener when they only make up a sliver of the climate change issues. I believe that the planet needs all of the help we can give. While some sports are incompatible to change for the environment, others can be completely green other than the transport of fans, we should change what we can, while we can. For example, any type of motor racing is incompatible for change to help the environment, because the faster the car moves, the more emissions the vehicle releases. Even the Olympics are stepping in by adding a third pillar. Their reasoning for the third pillar is to encourage a concern for environmental issues, and promote development accordingly.
Professional sports are an enjoyable experience for many but are slowly, but surely using our valuable resources, such as carbon, water, and energy. Therefore, I believe we should limit anything and everything we can to preserve our usage of natural resources in sports. Some sports, such as the MLB, NBA, and NHL, have made league-wide movements to limit their impact on the climate and have made great strides already, but it won’t be just one giant change that will solve climate change, it will have to be a million little things that come together.
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