Hockey Hall of Fame gains environmental steward in Bettman
With NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this week, there is much to celebrate: his success in growing the NHL from 24 teams to 31, increasing league revenue from $37 million to $5 billion, and growing hockey into international markets, among many other accomplishments.
From my perspective, Bettman’s hall of fame plaque should also reference his less-celebrated humanitarian work, especially his role as an environmental advocate.
During his tenure, Bettman has worked to promote environmental literacy among teams and fans, and he is personally involved in shaping the NHL’s focus on the threats posed by climate change.
There are many environmental accomplishments to celebrate under Bettman’s leadership: The NHL was the first sports league to issue a sustainability report; the league measures greenhouse gas emissions from games and league operations; it promotes the donation of uneaten food on game day; it supports the largest watershed restoration project of any sports league in the world; and, with Bettman’s approval, the NHL appeared before a congressional task force to encourage action on global warming. The NHL has won environmental awards from the EPA and in 2014 Bettman was awarded the Green Sports Alliance’s Environmental Leadership Award.
An organization is the shadow of its leadership, and the character of Bettman is defined by humanitarian instincts. The important program that the NHL has created to promote sustainability was initiated by Bettman and through his commitment to sustainability he has changed more than sports — he has improved the world.