Stadiums pursue new technologies and tactics to boost waste diversion

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

As fans flock back to large venues, many are seeing new or updated waste initiatives. Operators are experimenting with different collection systems, reusable cups, reverse vending machines and more.

Biodegradable golf balls are on the upswing

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

The large number of balls lost annually means microplastics are being introduced into waterways at an alarming rate, according to the Danish Golf Union.

Mitch Schols, the owner of Biodegradable Golf Balls has a plan to lower those numbers.

The company has designed and created exactly what you would expect from its name: biodegradable golf balls.

They are made of only two ingredients: corn starch and polyvinyl alcohol.

Float your carbon free boat: Solar-powered service aims to revolutionize recreational boating

Read the full story at Centered.

As fall progresses and the cold Midwest winter approaches, boating might not be top-of-mind. But here’s something to look forward to when the weather is favorable: a new “carbon-free shared recreational boating service” in Saugatuck, Michigan.

Last year, the founders launched startup Lilypad after toying around with the concept for years. Users rent six-person, low-speed watercraft that operate on solar power, with lithium-ion phosphate batteries for reserve power. The idea is to give more people easy, affordable access to Michigan’s waterways while reducing traditional watersports’ carbon impact.

A Common GOAL: OVG, sports team partners create new membership platform to exchange sustainability best practices

Read the full story in Sports Business Journal.

Sports venue operators interested in running their spaces more sustainably have long been left mostly on their own in figuring out how to do so.

Oak View Group wants to change that with the launch of GOAL (Green Operations and Advanced Leadership), a membership platform that will help venues operate in more environmentally friendly ways by accessing Amazon Web Services (AWS)-powered software that includes a tactical roadmap, a library of resources like vetted vendors lists, progress tracking tools and the free exchange of knowledge and experience among GOAL member venues. OVG partnered with the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena, Fenway Sports Group, and green building architect Jason McLennan, all of whom have equity in GOAL, to get the initiative off the ground.

Water Quality and Professional Turfgrass Managers

North Carolina State University Extension has developed a fact sheet to provide professional turf managers with management strategies that preserve and protect water resources. It includes best management practices for:

  • erosion and sedimentation
  • wetlands
  • ponds and lakes
  • turfgrass selection
  • fertilizers
  • irrigation
  • mowing
  • integrated pest management, and
  • pesticide selection, use, storage, and disposal

Heat risk and young athletes — rising temperatures lead to lawsuits and environmental injustice

Many young athletes spend hours in the hot sun every day. Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

by Jessica R. Murfree, Texas A&M University and Natasha Brison, Texas A&M University

At least 50 high school football players in the U.S. have died from heat stroke in the past 25 years. And high school athletes in other sports are not immune from the risks – female cross-country athletes are twice as likely to suffer from heat-related illnesses as athletes in any other high school sport.

The numbers are especially shocking when you consider that heat-related illnesses and deaths are entirely preventable.

While sports equipment has improved over time to protect against concussions, young players and college athletes are facing increasing risks from rising heat.

We study sport ecology and legal aspects of sport. With summer temperatures rising, we believe many youth sports leagues and school districts will need to aggressively update their practice rules and heat policies to keep their players safe. We suggest particular attention be paid to low-income, minority neighborhoods and regions that can get excessively hot.

Heat risks in youth sports

Each year, summer marks the return of discussions of just how severe the sweltering heat is. Nine of the 10 hottest years on record globally have been since 2012, and this year’s late-spring and early-summer heat waves were previews for what forecasters warned would be a brutal summer of 2022.

Yet many interscholastic and preparatory sport summer camps have kids running hard through the summer months, sometimes on days that reach triple-digit temperatures.

In a period of rapid climate change, ensuring heat risks remain preventable is critical.

A young player sits against a fence next to a track looking exhausted while a man crouches down next to him and talks to him.
An athletic trainer helps a teenage football player who had trouble after running during August training at a Maryland high school. Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Heat is the most frequent climate-related killer in the United States, with more deaths associated with it than tornadoes, floods and cold temperatures. And days of extreme heat and humidity are now surpassing concerning levels for human health. Overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an average of more than 700 heat-related U.S. deaths each year between 2004 and 2018. Some of the hottest years ever recorded have happened since then, and preliminary data detailing heat deaths in the U.S. indicates the rate increased 56% from 2018 to 2021.

Extreme heat due to climate change is making sport participation progressively challenging.

For high school athletes, the prevalence of extreme heat is leading to escalating heat-related illness, injuries, hospitalizations and deaths. In fact, heat stroke is a leading cause of death in sports.

Unsurprisingly, the greatest concentration of heat illness in young athletes occurs in August: the back-to-school and back-to-sports season.

When heat risks trigger lawsuits

Recognizing the warning signs can be especially challenging for children and teens. Young people are still learning how to communicate their feelings and experiences, and that can be more difficult in sport environments that promote toughness and perseverance. Ultimately, young athletes must trust adults to protect them.

Evidence suggests the prevalence of exertional heat stroke among high school athletes is largely due to young athletes’ not acclimatizing, or physically adjusting to the heat, particularly in the first few weeks of practice. Although heat policies related to temperature and hydration exist at the high school level, they aren’t always enforced. And they may need to be improved to reflect the warming climate given the rate of heat illness.

Illustration of human body listing symptoms of heat strike and heat exhaustion
Signs of heat illness and what to do. Elenabs via Getty Images

As a result, parents and guardians are faced with how best to advocate for their children.

In some cases, families have sued after heat injuries, both to recover money for their child’s suffering and to drive change in the hope that no other child will have to endure what others have. However, the heat injuries continue to rise.

Adults’ responsibility to keep children safe in sport settings becomes blurry as the growth in legal challenges related to heat illness demonstrates a disconnect between adults’ duty of care and athletes’ well-being. Negligence is a common claim associated with these lawsuits. Allegations of child endangerment or wrongful death can lead to civil or criminal legal disputes. But can reactive legal action prevent these heat injuries in the long run?

The fact that heat injuries are preventable is often why legal cases alleging negligence and wrongful death are successful. Still, heat stress, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and sunstroke are not uncommon in sports. Medical researchers have described heat illness among athletes as one of the most prominent pieces of evidence of climate change’s hazards and effect on sport.

Climate injustice for young athletes

Extreme heat can also enhance existing injustices and inequities.

For example, non-Hispanic Black Americans suffer heat-related deaths at a rate higher than the U.S. average. That doubles for Indigenous and Native Americans, who report the highest death rate from heat.

For athletes, the consequences of extreme heat can further complicate environmental and climate injustice. For instance, racial minorities and those in lower socioeconomic brackets have greater chances of living in the warmest areas, including urban heat islands, where heat trapped by pavement and buildings can make temperatures several degrees hotter than the city average.

A map showing hospitalizations peak at heat indices in California and the Northwest than other parts of the country.
The heat index is a combination of heat and humidity. Heat-related hospitalizations begin rising at lower heat index values in normally cooler parts of the country. Climate Central, CC BY-ND

At the same time, efforts are underway to diversify the sport landscape and provide equitable access to sport and recreation for all people. A vicious cycle spins between social justice – efforts to diversify sports – and environmental and climate justice, in which the most vulnerable communities face the greatest climate harm and health risks but are underresourced and ill-equipped to adapt to the changing climate.

Moving forward

Sports leagues and athletes have taken a stand on many social issues, but they are often reactive when implementing and advocating for change.

For instance, leagues implemented regulatory policies regarding brain safety only after countless tragedies. People began to focus on traumatic brain injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy after the deaths of numerous NFL players and a blockbuster film.

The heat-related deaths of collegiate and NFL football players, notably Minnesota Vikings player Korey Stringer, have drawn some attention to the risks. Tokyo 2020 Olympians and FIFA World Cup organizers have cited the need for regulatory changes because of the effects of extreme heat on athlete health. But it’s often only after a tragedy that improvements are made to protect young athletes from heat illness.

Two teenage players drink from large coolers near a playing field
Requiring breaks that allow athletes to cool off can save lives. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The sport sector can make immediate practical and policy-related adaptations to extreme heat to protect children. These include modifying practice schedules, increasing the number of water breaks, revising athletic heat policies to reflect climate change, and implementing procedures to ensure compliance by coaches and athletic administrators.

Texas A&M students Ariana Taylor and Ashwin Mathew in the DeBakey Executive Research Leadership Program contributed to this article.

Jessica R. Murfree, Visiting Assistant Professor of Sport Management and ACES Faculty Fellow, Texas A&M University and Natasha Brison, Assistant Professor of Sport Management, Texas A&M University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Greening Professional Sport: How Communicating the Fit, Proximity, and Impact of Sustainability Efforts Affects Fan Perceptions and Supportive Intentions

Harrison, V.S.; Vafeiadis, M.; Bober, J. (2022). “Greening Professional Sport: How Communicating the Fit, Proximity, and Impact of Sustainability Efforts Affects Fan Perceptions and Supportive Intentions.” Sustainability 14, 3139. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14063139

Abstract: Grounded in multidisciplinary literature from public relations, sport communication, and marketing, this study examined consumer reactions to sustainability initiatives launched by major sports leagues. Through an online survey (N = 254), the results showed that sports league-cause fit resulted in more positive organization–public relationships (OPRs) such as through trust, commitment, satisfaction, and control mutuality. Further, the findings revealed that a closer geographic proximity of the sustainability initiative and an increased perceived impact (donation amount and number of beneficiaries affected) triggered higher perceptions of trust, organizational authenticity, and fandom toward the sponsoring sports league. Interestingly, a significant two-way interaction between spatial proximity and impact suggested that lower perceptions of the impact of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) program evoked more positive attitudes when involving local beneficiaries, whereas higher perceptions of impact improved organizational attitudes when the beneficiaries were located faraway. Lastly, the findings indicated that the OPR variables, especially trust, as well as fandom, and organizational authenticity elicited higher supportive intentions (e.g., support CSR cause, donate, volunteer, share on social media) toward the sports league. Theoretical implications for fit, construal level theory, and CSR impact as well as implications for sport communication practitioners are discussed.

Anheuser-Busch funds recycling competition

Read the full story at Waste Today.

St. Louis-based brewer and beverage producer Anheuser-Busch has launched a program involving Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Football League (NFL) teams designed as a “multi-sports league coalition aiming to reduce waste on game day.”

The beverage maker says its National Recycling League “will leverage the scale and reach of the brewer’s professional sports team and league partnerships to elevate how the beverage industry encourages recycling. The National Recycling League aims to create meaningful connections between Anheuser-Busch’s brands including Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra, its league and team partners, and sports fans nationwide to raise awareness of the need for recycling and drive key recycling behaviors among consumers wherever they cheer on their favorite team – whether it’s in-stadium, at home or at a neighborhood bar.”

Lead contamination remains a significant issue at outdoor shooting ranges, prompting environmental law citizen suits

Read the full story at JD Supra.

Spent lead ammunition at outdoor shooting ranges remains a significant environmental topic, as accumulated lead can pose a threat to human health and the environment if best management practices are not implemented in a timely fashion to minimize the impact. Lead contamination is a known issue in the shooting community, remains an issue at ranges in many states, and has resulted in several recent major, sometimes multi-million dollar, remediation efforts. In 2021, the owners and operators of a Maryland shooting range settled a citizen lawsuit on the condition that the owners address the existing lead in the soil, surface water and wetlands, redirect certain shooting stations away from wetlands, and conduct regular sampling to check for contamination.

With that said, the civilian outdoor shooting range industry remains largely unregulated. In 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) developed a guidance manual called The Best Management Practices for Lead at Outdoor Shooting Ranges (EPA-902-B-01-001; revised in June 2005) (the “BMP Guidance”). 

Environmental Health Impacts of Synthetic Turf and Safer Alternatives

Research on the production, use, and disposal of artificial turf has brought to light concerns over environmental contamination, human health hazards, and adverse effects on wildlife. Researchers have studied a variety of contaminants found in artificial turf and different types of infill used to soften its surfaces. Concerns have been raised about polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), 6PPD-quinone, and microplastics, among others. Studies have also examined heat related illnesses, skin infections, and other human health concerns. During this webinar Rachel Massey, ScD, Lindsey Pollard, MS, Zhenyu TianPhD, and Sarah Evans, PhD, discussed their work looking at environmental health impacts of artificial turf and safer alternatives.

Dr. Rachel Massey and Lindsey Pollard discussed the research they have conducted at the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) on health and environmental implications of artificial turf and safer alternatives. They described their research on materials used as artificial turf infill, including waste tire materials. They  also touched upon emerging information on chemicals in artificial turf grass blades, as well as other health and environmental concerns associated with artificial turf, such as microplastic pollution and high surface temperatures. They briefly discussed their research on natural grass athletic fields as a safer alternative.

Dr. Zhenyu Tian briefly summarized the identification of 6PPD-quinone as a lethal toxicant for coho salmon, and will further introduce the comprehensive screening of organic contaminants in urban stormwater and tire wear particle leachate. He discussed knowledge gaps and ongoing research about crumb rubber infill materials.

To conclude, Dr. Sarah Evans spoke from a pediatric environmental health perspective, touching on routes of exposure and concerns specific to children, with an emphasis on what families and communities can do to use safer alternatives.