Academic journal article The Geographical Bulletin

Environmental Impact of Power Five Conference Realignment

Academic journal article The Geographical Bulletin

Environmental Impact of Power Five Conference Realignment

Article excerpt


Sports can have large environmental impacts on surrounding areas. Events at these venues generate large amounts of waste products, which end up in landfills, incinerators, or sewage plants (DeChano and Hruska, 2006). Wetland and riverine ecosystems, as well as other flora and fauna, can be highly altered with the creation of a new golf course or new sports facility. Environmental issues can also impede athletic performance. Poor air quality can hinder athletes' performances, as was seen with the 1997 World Track and Field Championships in Athens, Greece (CNN 2004). While some sports and teams have begun to address some of these athlete-environment issues there is still a large range of research to be conducted. This research project attempts to examine how the carbon footprints of the Power 5 college football conferences have changed in light of the recent realignment of teams. The Power 5 College Football Conferences are conferences typically regarded as having the best football teams in the United States. These conferences include the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the Big Ten Conference (B1G), the Big 12 Conference, the Pac-12 Conference (Pac-12), and the Southeastern Conference (SEC). We focus upon football as the shorter season of inter-conference games (9-11) allows for a standard research platform


The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) has been engaging in strategies that address some of the environmental impacts of their sports. For instance, in 2011, the NCAA Final Four Division I college basketball tournament was held in Houston, Texas. For the first time a NCAA Final Four Sustainability Committee was created with the founding members being the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), LG Electronics, Waste Management, Reliant Park the City of Houston and the George R. Brown Convention Center. This committee developed programs to reduce environmental impacts. For instance, an environmental assessment was conducted to determine the current status of sustainability practices at Reliant Stadium and to determine opportunities for improvement. Carbon offsets for wind and solar power projects were purchased to avoid 210 U.S. tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. Unused prepared food and beverages from the stadium were donated to appropriate local organizations. Waste and paper products from Reliant Stadium as well as local hotels and businesses were recycled as much as possible (NRDC 2011). Similar programs have been implemented at every Final Four NCAA Division I basketball tournament since 2011.

In 2014, the NCAA leaders wanted to take these initiatives to the next level by having the greenest tournament in its history so many activities were in place leading up NCAA Final Four at AT & T Stadium, in Arlington, Texas. The city had 1014 trees planted around town. A non-perishable food drive provided the North Texas and Tarrant County Food Banks with supplies. A basketball court was donated to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center that was made nearly exclusively from recycled materials. A community recycled art showcase was held. Finally, a recycling and composting program at AT&T Stadium was created to help manage waste (Pale 2014).

More and more colleges and universities are also promoting sustainability , and university athletic departments are slowly increasing sustainability efforts. Colleges and universities are often central to the local community, giving them the ability to increase environmental awareness and the need for sustainable lifestyles. They can help facilitate change through their ability to engage the community and their ability to link research talent with resources. Athletic department sustainability efforts not only provide educational opportunities for fans and students, they impact the department's the bottom line through cost savings and revenue generation (Casper, Pfahl, and McCullough 2014). …

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