The Philadelphia Eagles lost last night, missing a chance to secure a bye in the first round of the NFL Playoffs. The game, played against the Minnesota Vikings, came after a strange series of events. First, the game was postponed due to an intense snowstorm over the weekend and then there was the mini-controversy of President Obama calling Jeffrey Lurie, the owner of the Eagles, and weighing in on the second chance Laurie has given Michael Vick.
Wait … Why have I just spent 86 words talking about today’s sports news on a blog dedicated to climate change? Because, by all accounts, the president didn’t call Lurie to talk about Michael Vick – he called to talk to him about the Eagles’ aggressive plan to bring renewable energy to their stadium, Lincoln Financial Field. According to a recent article in The New York Times, the Eagles are set to install “about 2,500 solar panels, 80 20-foot-high wind turbines and a generator that runs on natural gas and biodiesel” at Lincoln Financial.
These installations would give the Eagles the first stadium capable of generating all of its own electricity.
That’s a pretty big deal, but worthy of a call from the president? I’d say yes, and here’s why: Just before Christmas, the EPA announced a timetable for rules that will regulate greenhouse gasses. This move was promised/threatened by the president if Congress failed to pass comprehensive climate change legislation. To successfully enact these rules, Obama is going to need to mount a campaign to convince Americans that they’re not only necessary, but good for the country and (more importantly) American jobs.
To mount this campaign, he’s going to need all the help he can get – and that’s where the Eagles come in.
Support from the usual suspects, i.e. environmental organizations and left-leaning groups, isn’t going to cut it in the current political climate. The president, and anyone who cares about the environment, needs to find partners who speak to red staters (for lack of a better term), and an NFL franchise – especially one with a blue-collar/bad-boy reputation like the Eagles – is a perfect partner in this fight.
Environmental sustainability is not new to the Eagles, they’ve been at it in one form or another since 2003. A team like this, properly deployed and marketed, could help the President sell his agenda of a clean-energy future, making it seem less foreign, and frankly less about sacrifice. Because, let’s face it, for all of our talk to the contrary, Americans hate sacrifice. We like excess and right now there’s nothing more excessive in our culture than the National Football League.
So, like pickup trucks and beer, if renewable energy is good for the NFL, it must be good for America.
David Connell is associate director of strategic communications for digital marketing at The Nature Conservancy
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