Super Bowl XLVIII was held in New York this past weekend and the grass, the Seattle Seahawks, or the numerous marijuana jokes were not the only things that were green about it. Unbeknownst to the large majority, there was a sustainability focus at Met Life Stadium during America’s biggest sports weekends that is typically characterized by rampant consumption. According to an article by Matt Brass, the consumption aspect to the Super Bowl is not changing but the NFL is undertaking actions to try and soften it’s environmental impact.
It is estimated that Americans will eat “1.23 billion chicken wings, drink 325 million gallons of beer and eat 3.8 million pounds of popcorn.” Yes, you read that right, 3.8 million POUNDS of popcorn.
So now you’re asking what the NFL did in terms of sustainability. No, they didn’t magically replace billions of chicken, replenish the earth’s water supply or plant corn crops, but they took baby steps to minimize the Super Bowl’s environmental footprint, at least in the stadium.
- The Super Bowl was held at Met Life Stadium – the league’s greenest venue. Met Life’s sustainability resume can be seen here.
- All of the cooking oil used will be converted to bio-diesel
- Polystyrene foam containers were eliminated from use
- Recycling and composting at every opportunity
Again, these are baby steps that were undertaken by America’s most popular sport organization that has little pressure from competition or consumers to do so. Considering the above scenario, the NFL should be commended on taking the initiative to start addressing environmental concerns.
What I also noticed about the green initiatives at the Super Bowl was that the NFL did not market or publicize what was happening, at least not up here in Canada. Nevertheless, after reading about this I started thinking back to class concepts about the Green Marketing Strategy that the NFL employed.
From reading “Choosing the Right Green Marketing Strategy” by Jill Meredith Ginsberg and Paul N. Bloom, it seems that the NFL is employing a Lean Green strategy. According the the article a company with a lean green strategy “tries to be good corporate citizens, but they are not focused on publicizing or marketing their green initiatives. Instead, they are interested in reducing costs and improving efficiencies through pro-environmental activities,thereby creating a lower-cost competitive advantage, not a green one.”
It is also worth noting that the typical NFL fan may not care a whole lot about sustainability and “going green.” If the NFL made a public announcement, they risk alienating some of their fans and changing their brand perceptions. Furthermore, bringing attention to minor sustainability initiatives may open up the NFL to more criticism about what they aren’t doing rather than the positive things they are doing.
But this could all change in the future and sustainability could spread to every team in the league. As Americans become more in-tune with sustainability, you may see the NFL, and other sports organizations, promote their green initiatives more heavily. However, at the moment the NFL is just taking small steps – but those small steps will eventually get the company further up the sustainability mountain.