Playing Greener: Using sports to bring environmental change
Today, organized sports are about much more than the teams taking the field. Team officials must be aware of all components of their organization, including their ability to impact and influence our communities. Green Business Partners – Baltimore Orioles, Venice Golf and Country Club, Sarasota County, and the University of Florida all are creating programs to support the greening of sports.
The Baltimore Orioles Ed Smith Stadium is a LEED-certified green building that integrates numerous environmental conservation practices into the design. Ed Smith Stadium has integrated several water-saving measures, including using reclaimed water to flush toiles and to irrigate the field and surrounding landscape. The team also has installed solar-heating systems for locker room showers. Around the stadium, the effective installation of batting helmet-shaped recycling containers (“Fan Cans”) has improved the waste diversion rate.
The Venice Golf and Country Club has implemented many notable environmental management practices as part of its “preserve and protect” philosophy. Their recycling and composting alone have saved the company nearly $3,000 annually in avoided collection and disposal costs.
The University of Florida’s College of Health and Human Performance, in partnership with UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, is developing coursework for a Sports Management master-level program called Sports and the Environment. This program is one of the first of its kind to integrate major concepts in environmental sustainability – such as renewable energy, water conservation, recycling and social responsibility – into the sports industry. Through case studies, in-class discussions, and practical exercises, students gain an understanding of the components of a successful sustainability program and learn how they can collaborate to solve important environmental issues impacting the sports industry today.
Sarasota County’s Nathan Benderson Park incorporates a food-waste collection program for rowing events. This project involves a team of composting volunteers assisting with the collection and separation of recycling and trash from the compost bins. The food waste collected is processed in mulch-lined composting bins, specially constructed in the park’s maintenance area. The unique aspect of the composting project is that the food waste is collected and processed onsite, reducing unnecessary environmental impacts. Focusing on the athletes, food carts, and general public areas, the Sarasota County Extension composting team diverted more than 2,500 pounds of food waste during four recent rowing events.