Davidson College has launched an initiative that aims to use the wide-reaching influence of sports to inspire progress around sustainability. "The Next Play"–as the college has dubbed the program–will comprise a number of on-campus initiatives, including a Student-Athlete Sustainability Coalition, two zero-waste athletic events and a speaker series.
"Our overall goal with The Next Play initiative is to encourage conversation and innovation around sustainability through the lens of sport," said Jeff Mittelstadt, Davidson College's director of sustainability. "We want students to understand that the triple bottom line of social equity, environmental integrity and financial profitability is applicable-and immensely important-to any industry. Sports offer an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that idea because almost everybody likes some form of sport."
In addition to these campus-focused measures, The Next Play initiative will be marked by two national flagship events: a sustainability in sports venture pitch tournament and a virtual discussion on sustainability and sports that the college will facilitate in the five months leading up to the tournament.
The venture pitch tournament, which is sponsored by companies including Duke Energy and Ingersoll Rand, looks to capitalize on the excitement around March Madness© by targeting Division I colleges and universities with men's or women's basketball teams selected to compete in their respective NCAA basketball tournaments. The schools with basketball teams that are invited to "The Dance" will then be invited by Davidson College to send teams of undergraduate and graduate students to Davidson's campus where they will present their business plans on how to make sports a more sustainable industry and how to use sports ventures to drive sustainability. The event is scheduled for April 10-12, 2014.
The Next Play will engage the colleges and universities that do not attend the April event through a virtual discussion on sports and sustainability online and through social media outlets.
Davidson College is working with the Green Sports Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council to promote The Next Play initiative. "The Alliance and the NRDC have been successfully working for several years on getting the sports industry to embrace environmental sustainability, so we are very excited to work with them to continue that mission by asking students and businesses to embrace the triple bottom line," said Mittelstadt.