THIS WEEK'S PICK | SPORT MEETS SUSTAINABILITY
In the past few weeks, numerous reports have been released on the severity of global climate change, prompting organizations in the sports sector to examine and address what role they play in the phenomenon. For all of the positive impact that sport has on communities, it also requires significant resource consumption and generates a sizeable environmental footprint. From team travel and uniforms to stadium concessions and infrastructure, there is room for adjustments that are as green as they are economically viable.
Major sports organizations are stepping up to the plate to issue their own sets of guidelines and standards in an attempt to turn conversation into action. The International Olympic Committee released its Sustainability Strategy in April, providing direction to International Federations, National Olympic Committees, and Organizing Committees of Games for sustainable sourcing of goods and services. FIVB, the international governing body for volleyball, launched the Good Net project in Brazil to re-purpose fishing nets into volleyball nets. And in late 2018, FIFA joined the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework which aims to "raise awareness and action to meet the goals of the Paris agreement for climate protection" through joint action from sports organizations, teams, athletes and fans.
Just like on the field of play, joint action will be key. Building awareness is important, but participation in and promotion of these programs from individual teams and athletes is crucial in order to make them viable. Without momentum from the top and visible buy-in from key figures, green initiatives will be hard-pressed to gain traction with the stakeholder group whose participation ultimately determines the success of any initiative in sports: the fans.
CLIENTS IN THE NEWS
GOING GLOBAL | THE NBA GOES INTERNATIONAL
The NBA is having an international moment. On May 30, the NBA finals were played outside of the United States for the first time ever, with the Raptors facing the Golden State Warriors at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. It was also announced that all seven games of the finals will be streamed for free in India via the NBA's YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter channels, as well as on its Sony Channels, one of which features commentary in Hindi. The NBA will also facilitate two exhibition games in Mumbai in December of 2019.
These ventures in India have come hot on the heels of the NBA's burgeoning activities in Africa. In February, the NBA announced that the Basketball Africa League will begin play in December of 2020, with twelve teams participating. The NBA Finals have also shined a light on an exciting future for professional basketball in Africa. During a press conference in Toronto last week, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver pointed out that four of the players competing in the finals were either born in Africa or have African parents. Looking at the NBA as a whole, 40 of the 108 international players on team rosters in 2019 were either born in Africa or born to African parents, a figure showing potential that the NBA knows would be irresponsible to ignore.
Success of professional basketball in Africa will ride on the generation of a solid fan base and interest in the game, often facilitated by charismatic athletes. But, with the explosive amount of African talent currently present in the NBA in North America, such as Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors), and Serge Ibaka (Toronto Raptors), generating that interest does not look like it will be a problem.