2017 Men’s Final Four Championship Organizers Seek Certification for Social and Environmental Responsibility

EUGENE, March 30, 2017– As the surviving teams emerge from March Madness and get ready for the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championships in Phoenix, Arizona, organizers are preparing to host what they hope will be the most social and environmentally responsible Final Four weekend ever.

The 2017 Phoenix Final Four Local Organizing Committee has built programming upon a baseline created with the NCAA, Houston Local Organizing Committee and City of Houston at last years’ Final Four, using the Council for Responsible Sport standards for certification; the 2016 event earned basic level certification. Phoenix organizers hope to achieve a higher level of certification at this years’ event, which is awarded after a robust review process that includes an on-site evaluation by the Council’s primary evaluation partner, Waste Management, and post-event reporting of performance on specific criteria.

“Phoenix is honored to host the Final Four in 2017 and is making the same commitment to sustainability that Houston and former host cities have made,” said Dawn Rogers, CEO of the 2017 Phoenix Final Four Local Organizing Committee. “We are working with an outstanding local committee to have a high waste diversion rate along with water and energy offsets. With our community working together under one banner, we’ll strive to ensure that Phoenix showcases the standard of excellence this iconic event deserves.”

“Waste Management is excited to continue utilizing our sustainable event management expertise and evaluate this year’s Final Four for the Council,” said Ben Mjolsness, Sustainability Associate with Waste Management and this year’s on-site evaluator. “The event organizers have put together a robust collection of programs focused on social and environmental initiatives. We are looking forward to seeing them all in action at this year’s Final Four tournament.”

Certification from the Council formally recognizes responsible practices at sporting events and is achieved by implementing best practices in each of five categories including planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity, and community legacy.

Socially and environmentally responsible initiatives planned for the 2017 Phoenix Final Four include:

  • Attempting high rates of waste diversion from the landfill through signage and sorting of recyclable and compostable materials
  • Working with local partners such as Keep Phoenix Beautiful to repurpose signage, banners and other durable materials
  • Engaging volunteers and the public to show support and take action in their lives through the ‘Final Four Green Pledge’
  • Hosting 3,200 youth (18 & under) at the NCAA Final Four Dribble on Sunday, April 2 in downtown Phoenix where participants will receive a free t-shirt and Wilson basketball
  • The Phoenix Local Organizing Committee is providing 6,000 backpacks to 60 area schools in a partnership with NCAA Team Works
  • Engaging third grade students at 360 local schools in a literacy challenge geared to inspire reading and increase classroom achievement in partnership with ReadOnArizona and NCAA.
  • Opening the March Madness Music Festival to the public at no cost. The festival is at Margaret T. Hance Park featuring performances by top national musicians.

The Final Four basketball games will be played at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The fan festivities will be held in downtown Phoenix starting Friday, March 31 through Monday, April 3.


Waste Management Partners with the Council for Responsible Sport to Support Sustainable Sports

Here at the Council for Responsible Sport, we continue to envision a world where responsible sports are the norm. To date, 133 certified events have helped bring about a culture shift towards greater focus on environmental stewardship and enhancing the positive social outcomes of sporting events.

From marathons like the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and Chevron Houston Marathon, to (slightly) shorter road races like the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Miler and TD Beach to Beacon 10K, to cycling events like the TD Five Boro Bike Tour and 2015 UCI Road World Championships; from track and field championships like the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in ’12 and ’16, to major PGA golf tournaments like the AT&T National Pro Am at Pebble Beach and the Waste Management Phoenix Open, events are increasingly acting beyond the bottom line according to their broader values and achieving incredible results along with official certification according to the Responsible Sport Standards. According to us, we’re just getting started. Certified events still represent the ‘leaders of the pack’ in an industry where there are over 30,000 running events staged in the U.S. alone every year.

Waste Management, our primary evaluation partner since January 2016, has been instrumental in amplifying the Council’s reach and bringing in experiential knowledge to our on-site evaluation process. WM has helped us make certification more relevant to organizers in many ways, thus, in short—more valuable.

The history of how this partnership came to be is now available publicly for all who are interested in better understanding the advancement of social and environmental responsibility as it relates to sport. We’re humbled and honored to contribute, and we’re very grateful to have Waste Management on our team to help bring about the integration of triple bottom line thinking into sport event management in the U.S. and beyond. We hope you enjoy the read!

Supporting Sustainable Sports: Waste Management Partners with the Council for Responsible Sport

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December 14th, 2016 | | Innovation, News & Views, Uncategorized

2016 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle Grows Sustainability Programming to Earn Gold Certification


2016 Shamrock Shuffle. Photo courtesy Chicago Events Management.


The Council for Responsible Sport is pleased to announce today that the 2016 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K, held April 3 in Chicago, has earned gold level certification. This is the third certification (2011-12, 2013-14) for the event where more than 23,000 runners crossed the finish line at Grant Park in 2016.

“As the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle course makes its way through the various neighborhoods of the city, we realize the responsibility we have to support – or – uphold the environment of these vital communities,” said Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K Executive Race Director, Carey Pinkowski. “As we grow our sustainability program each year, it is rewarding to see the positive impact of our efforts and the enthusiasm everyone has to make the race as sustainable as possible.”

Highlights from the 2016 Shamrock Shuffle sustainability initiatives include:


  • The two-day Health & Fitness Expo was held in the West Building at the McCormick Place Convention Center, a LEED certified sustainable building that utilizes 100 percent emissions free wind power.
  • Seventy percent of all waste generated by the event was diverted from the landfill via recycling, compost and reuse efforts.
  • Participant shirts are made from 100 percent recycled polyester as part of Nike’s Better World product line.


  • The event’s partnership with Deloitte for the 2016 Team Competition helped to engage Deloitte and other Chicago area business employees in organizational health & wellness programs.
  • Race entries were donated to Year Up, an organization that empowers young adults to overcome poverty and move into professional work in a single year
  • The Chicago Parks Foundation’s interactive booth at the Health & Fitness Expo educated the public about the local parks’ value, functions and importance.
  • Provided training to thousands of event volunteers on the hands-only CPR method.


Read the full press release here and let the #ShamrockShuffle know what you think of their #responsiblesport efforts on social media!

July 22nd, 2016 | | Uncategorized

Austin Marathon and Half Marathon Earns Gold Certification by the Council for Responsible Sport as it Hands the Reins to New Owners

Back in 2008 as the Council for Responsible Sport was getting started, the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon was one of the pilot events to test their operations against the first set of standards and guidance on best practices for hosting responsible events. Since then, the Conley Sports team has not rested in complacency, but rather has continually challenged itself to be an example to others in the industry for how to make a fun, profitable event into a fun, profitable event with purpose.

The 2016 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon presented by NXP on February 14, has earned Gold certification by the Council. It is the first gold level effort and the fifth consecutive certification—the most of any in the pool of certified events. Owned and operated by Conley Sports Productions, LLC since 2007, the marathon and other events owned by Conley Sports were sold to High Five Events this February.

The 2016 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon gave the power to choose back to participants by setting up a 'sample table' for them to self-select promotional items and eliminate unnecessary and undesired consumption.

The 2016 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon gave the power to choose back to participants by setting up a ‘sample table’ for them to self-select promotional items and eliminate unnecessary and undesired consumption.

To earn the gold, organizers met criteria for 45 of the best practice standards set forth by the Council across five categories, including: planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity and community legacy. Nearly 15,000 participants joined the weekend of events as around 20,000 spectators looked on.

“The Austin Marathon and Half Marathon presented by NXP reflects Austin’s commitment to sustainability and its commitment to influencing important trends to mitigate climate change,” said race director and owner of Conley Sports Productions, John Conley. “I am enormously proud of our role within our community and the road race industry to be a force for good.”

It may be the end of an era for Conley Sports, but the legacy of commitment to responsible sport remains and will be inherited for its continuation by the new event rights holders.

Highlights from the certification effort can be found in the full press release here. Join us in congratulating Conley Sports Productions on a great run, in all senses of the phrase.

University of Oregon’s 2015 ‘Civil War’ Game Achieves a Collegiate Football First with Gold Certification

First-ever collegiate football game to earn certification gets gold for its responsible sport practices in Eugene, Oregon.

It’s confirmed—the 2015 ‘Civil War’ football game hosted by the University of Oregon Athletic Department has earned Gold. With the achievement, it becomes the first collegiate football game ever to earn certification from the Council, and lends evidence to the case for the applicability of the version 4.2 Responsible Sport Standards to a broad range of event types.

The NCAA Division I contest hosted biennially at Autzen Stadium in Eugene attracted a sellout crowd of more than 55,000 guests in the Oregon Ducks’ 52-42 win over the Oregon State University Beavers last November. The game has long been deemed the ‘Civil War’ by Oregonians because the rival schools are the two largest public Universities in the state of Oregon.

Green Team Volunteers collect and sort recyclable containers in the tailgating area at Autzen Stadium as a fundraiser for their organization (Creswell High School Marching Band).

Green Team volunteers collect and sort recyclable containers in the tailgating area at Autzen Stadium as a fundraiser for their organization, the Creswell High School Marching Band.

As Council for Responsible Sport blog readers may know, events seeking certification must earn credit in each of the five categories set forth in the standards: planning and communications, procurement, access and equity, resource management and community legacy. The UO met the requirements for 49 of the 61 total best practices across those categories to earn the gold level designation.

“This is an incredible honor for our Athletic Department and the campus community as a whole,” said Director of Athletics Rob Mullens. “Thanks to our Athletics staff and the tremendous work and organization by Natalie Colvin and her team of fellow students from the Lundquist College of Business, along with our partners Sanipac and Daimler, we were able to execute this important ‘first’ in college athletics.”

The effort was collaborative—graduate students from the UO Lundquist College of Business helped document many of the initiatives that led to certification. The City of Eugene also provided support through its sustainable sports initiative, building upon years of partnership developing responsible sport resources with both UO Athletics and TrackTown USA for elite track and field events across the river at Historic Hayward Field, including the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in 2012 (Gold), the IAAF World Junior Championships (2014-Gold), the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships (2015-Silver), and the USATF Outdoor Championships (2015-Silver).

Check out the full press release here to read the highlights from the gold certification at the 2015 ‘Civil War’.