Thursday, November 16, 2006

What You Get Is No Tomorrow

"Fame… What you want is in the limo..."

Hello, Sports Fans! Which, in fact, was the column I set out to write today when, lo and behold, I discovered to my dismay that there simply aren’t a whole helluvalot of athletes, high profile American professionals, on the frontlines of environmental work.
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I’m not saying there isn’t a single tree hugger in Major League Baseball -- tho, please, tell me his name -- or a Prius-owner in the NFL (a place-kick holder, most likely), but when it comes to sports this fan fears Shaq’s carbon footprint completely dwarfs his legendary feets.
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"Fame… What is it good for?… Absolutely nothing!" --David Bowie, FAME

Wait, not so fast, David. And the NFL does have it’s NFL Environmental program which has been on-going since 1992. It works with host communities of the Superbowl and Probowl to mitigate their impact, attempting comprehensive solid waste management, recycling, collection and donation of extra ‘prepared food,’ and it has a "Carbon Neutral" initiative that "seeks to plant hundreds of seedling trees to offset the greenhouse gas emissions." It'll be there once again in South Florida on February 4th when Superbowl XLI is held.
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Sure, it’s mostly public relations, but it is laudable.

So, is working to limit the adverse effects of humongous sporting events, but having few star athletes involved in green causes better than the reverse?
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For example, yesterday a UCLA Institute of the Environment report claimed Hollywood production is responsible for 140,000 tons of particulate pollution a year in Los Angeles. Despite individual producers and studios attempts at minimizing that raging waste, the variety of sub-contractors, of tradespeople, gaffers, teamsters, caterers, all of whom are employed job to job make it next to impossible to impose uniform standards and therefore to control it.

But it’s Hollywood celebrities first and foremost who are out front, putting their names and faces, their time and their voices, to making the public aware of the precarious state of the planet’s health and of an increasing number of green alternatives.

Frankly, in the short and even medium run, I’d prefer that situation – that ‘double-standard’ if you will -- of burning a little extra gas getting people aware of our choice to what’s going on in the sports world. True, Athletes in this media-conscious age are giving of their time to their communities, to campaigns to help eradicate disease, to reach inner city kids, to a wide range of charitable endeavors. To suggest anything less would be churlish. And, after all, all these things are interconnected.

But there’s something troubling, and misplaced, maybe even a bit of deep denial at work when the heroes who earn their fame racing over broad swatches of mown grass, breathing deep lungfuls of fresh air, swatting little balls into stands of tall trees or over far distant fences, or arching larger balls up for the shell of a peach basket, have so little care, so little time for the causes that would preserve the sunlight and open spaces that gave birth to these games.

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