This is not a column about the color of tennis courts despite clay courts looking like the terrain of Mars and most hard courts at professional tennis events no longer being green. While covering the 2008 Indianapolis Tennis Championships, members of what looked to be a local scouting troop wearing hats saying “Environmental Team” were collecting plastic bottles and aluminum cans for recycling. These intrepid scouts also placed litter into trash cans. Recycling is good, and minimizing litter is a solid step. I do wonder if the world’s most global sport could do more to be friendly to the planet.
Regardless of what any reader thinks about various claims regarding global ecological crises, increases in air pollution do have local impacts such as raising the frequency of asthma attacks. Some pollutants impact rain that in turn impacts local water and soil quality. The spikes in litter, air traffic, automobile traffic and electrical usage that surround a successful tennis event do have tangible consequences.
Tennis can be Greener and here are a few Ideas I have on How
1. The ATP should court either BP or Kyocera as a major sponsor. Each of these companies manufacture and sell solar panels in addition to other products. Solar arrays could be installed at select events. Many of these tennis centers serve as junior development hubs during the rest of the year. If enough panels were installed to provide more than the daily electrical needs for the facility during 51 weeks of the year, the wattage being pumped into the grid would help minimize pollutants throughout the year. Television covering these events would likely show the panels at various points during the telecast so BP or Kyocera would get a nice plug.
2. The Grand Slams should each adopt a sensitive ecological area unique to the nation hosting the event. The Australian Open could adopt the Great Barrier Reef, Roland Garros could sponsor efforts to protect biodiversity in the Mediterranean, The Championships could sponsor protecting and restoring various lakes in England, and the U.S. Open could promote Central Park as well as other green spaces in urban areas. The method of sponsorship would be quite simple. Internet auctions modeled after the tsunami support at the 2005 Australian Open could take place at each slam with proceeds going to the selected ecological project.
3. The WTA could partner with organizations such as the National Arbor Day Foundation, World Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy and plant 1 tree for every ace hit at selected events. The trees would be planted in the region of the given event so a local flavor would exist for this project. This may need to be a WTA project as Dr. Ivo might reforest the planet, but this is a simple and inexpensive way for tennis to green up the planet as it travels.
4. The Two Senior Tours should each adopt an endangered species for which to raise funds throughout their truncated world jaunts.
While these ideas are not perfect, they may be a way to give those local scouting troops a hand and also raise the profile of tennis world wide in a positive manner.
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