January 5, 2017 -- The City of Houston and the Council for Responsible Sport announced today that the NCAA Final Four Division I Men’s Basketball Championships held in Houston, Texas has earned certification formally recognizing socially and environmentally responsible practices at the 2016 event. Credit was earned for implementing best practices in each of five categories including; planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity, and community legacy.
“I am very proud Houston was home to the first certified NCAA Final Four Men’s Basketball Championship,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Major athletic events capture the spotlight of the nation and can motivate us to be better stewards of our planet and community. Hosting the first certified Final Four was a great opportunity for Houston to bring the message of sustainability to a national audience, which we hope will raise the bar for events to come.”
"The Council commends NCAA men's basketball championships, the Houston Local Organizing Committee, and the City of Houston on the collaboration that earned this important first certification of the men's collegiate basketball championship. This type of collaborative leadership sets the standard for other host cities, organizing committees, and the NCAA to create on-going benefit for players, schools, fans, and communities," said Ethan Nelson, Chairman of the Council for Responsible Sport.
The certification process included an on-site evaluation performed by consultants from Waste Management Sustainability Services, the Council for Responsible Sport’s primary evaluation partner. Evaluators provided a report with insights that will be passed along to future host committees to help improve responsible sport performance at future Final Four events.
Social responsibility highlights from the 2016 Final Four and Fan Festival responsible sport initiatives included:
- March Madness Music Festival was free to the public and featured performances by leading national musicians
- 3,000 area youth participated in the NCAA Final Four Dribble fueled by POWERADE where they dribbled from City Hall to the entrance of Final Four Fan Fest and were gifted a basketball, jump rope and reusable water bottle to encourage their continued participation in regular physical activity.
- 7,000 third-grade students from 68 schools in the Houston Independent School participated in the ‘Read to the Final Four’ literacy program to promote reading and academic success. Students were given backpacks and school supplies at the outset of the academic year, provided by NCAA. The program culminated with participating students receiving transportation and entry to Final Four Friday on April 1, 2016.
- 1,600 area youth participated in free clinics to teach healthy training skills to people new to the sport.
Environmental stewardship highlights included:
- 3,348 pounds of electronic ‘e-waste’ were collected through the Houston Electronics Recycling Drive in collaboration with the Houston Local Organizing Committee.
- More than 1,000 visitors made use of a free bike valet offered by Bike Houston for the March Madness Music Festival.
- Vinyl banners were recycled from the March Madness Music Festival, 4 Miler, Dribble, and NRG Stadium through City of Houston Reuse Houston.
About the ARA Sustainability Division
The goal of the ARA Sustainability Division is to help the City of Houston identify strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; collaborate with departments on developing programs, projects, and policies that improve the quality of life for Houstonians; and engage the community and citizens on environmental, economic, and social equity issues --www.greenhoustontx.gov
About the Council for Responsible Sport
The Council’s vision is a world where responsibly produced sports events are the norm and its mission is to provide objective, independent verification of the socially and environmentally responsible work event organizers are doing to make a difference in their communities. The current version of the Council’s Certification standards (v.4.2) was developed by an outside working group of both sustainability and sport industry experts, reviewed by a wide range of stakeholders throughout 2013 and implemented in January 2014 -- www.councilforresponsiblepport.org