Mixed Message

I caught a couple minutes of an National Basketball Association game on television this weekend.  During the broadcast a commentator highlighted the environmental sustainability steps taken by the NBA.  I thought, ‘good for them.’  As I held this thought I watched a commercial jet take-off from our local airport and I began to wonder.  After a little time on the internet I discovered that a couple of NBA teams are working to incorporate carbon offsets or green architecture into their franchises to mitigate their carbon footprint. What I could not find was a program to address the impact of the NBA’s travel schedule.  82 games a season with 41 away games equates to 82 at least segments in a private/leased jet (before you account for preseason and playoffs).  Thirty teams play in the league which totals 2,460 take-offs a season.  Just focusing on the air portion of the travel I could not discover any specific initiative to schedule games in a manner that prioritized efficient air travel.  If the NBA wants to incorporate a real statement about its commitment towards sustainability they might focus on scheduling games using the same strategy of a small company.  If you put a sales associate in New York, why not continue to New Jersey, Boston, and Philadelphia instead of flying back to Denver or Los Angles between visits to each city?

Major League Baseball, the National Football League, National Hockey Association, and collegiate sports all have an opportunity to make an remarkable statement about their environmental sustainability commitment.  It is a positive step to see conservation and sustainability programs in place but if this is a core value for a league, address the largest sources of your environmental impact.

If Walmart started charging five cents for each plastic bags at checkout, it would give license to many stores to match their lead.  If one professional sports league addressed their carbon footprint caused by air travel it would put a spotlight on all the other leagues.

Is your organization living its core values?  Do you need to show-and-tell all the steps you have taken or is it self-evident?

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