There is no doubt that Pittsburgh is notorious for its sports’ fans and the ultimate passion found throughout the city limits and beyond. A simple drive through the ‘burgh is sure to provide arguably obnoxious flashes of black and yellow memorabilia of some sort, flags waving in the yards of most Pittsburghers’, and one simply can’t walk down a local street without passing someone in a jersey representing one of the three teams. The Steelers (NFL), Pirates (MLB), and Penguins (NHL) truly invoke passion unlike found in any other city.
Such significant amounts of fans and their overwhelming passion for each team provide the perfect arena (pun intended) for communication to crowds that may otherwise go unnoticed, particularly in the Steel City. Cue the Green Sports Alliance (GSA).
According to their website,
“The Green Sports Alliance leverages the cultural and market influence of sports to promote healthy, sustainable communities where we live and play. We do so by inspiring sports leagues, teams, venues, their partners and millions of fans to embrace renewable energy, healthy food, recycling, water efficiency, species preservation, safer chemicals and other environmentally preferable practices.Alliance members represent more than 300 sports teams and venues from 20 different sports leagues and 14 countries.”
As a member of the Green Sports Alliance, both teams and venues are able to share with each other to further their own sustainability initiatives by using the Alliance’s resources and network with other teams, as well. In fact, a simple search led me to find that both the Pirates and Steelers are already members of the GSA, as well as their PNC Park and Heinz Field. Also, Consol Energy Center is a member, but unfortunately, the Penguins are not (yet).
So, let’s think about this. The capacity of PNC Park is 38,362. The capacity of Heinz Field is 68,400. The capacity of Consol Energy Center is 18,387. The way I see it, this allows for thousands, if not millions, of Pittsburgh fans and other event attendees to learn about sustainability within each stadium, within each team, and within Pittsburgh as a whole.
For example, the Pittsburgh Pirates launched a campaign in 2008 titled “Let’s Go Bucs. Let’s Go Green” which embodied three key elements:
- Recycling: “Since its launch in 2008, the Pirates have recycled more than 6 million pounds of material. The Pirates now successfully divert approximately 75-percent of waste from PNC Park out of the waste stream.”
- Conservation: “The Pirates have taken decisive steps to improve the energy efficiency of PNC Park drastically reducing the energy consumption throughout the year. The Pirates have made an organization-wide effort to order more environmentally friendly paper, printing and cleaning products.”
- Awareness: “The Pirates utilize their unique public position to promote the importance of sustainable practices in order to make an even greater positive impact on our environment.”
Good for them. However, I argue that virtually no Pirates fan is “aware” of this campaign whatsoever.
By truly capitalizing on the resources provided by the GSA and current initiatives, the potential for each team to truly educate their fans on sustainability and other “green” initiatives is likely to at least encourage sustainability-mindedness for Pittsburghers (and no, I’m not encouraging green-washing). It’s simply my own theory that communication at a Pirates game, Steelers game, or Penguins game coupled with the ultimate passion of their fans is sure to at least catch the attention of the Terrible Towel, Jolly Rodger waving fanatics.