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Greening the NFL Draft 2019


One of my family's favorite movies is DRAFT DAY with Kevin Kostner as the decisive general manager under pressure from all sides. It's a fascinating--if fictional--look at the Draft from behind the scenes.

The Penn State Sustainability Institute has established a relationship with the NFL Environment Program via our partnership with PepsiCo. Smeal students and faculty have been key partners from the recent NFL Draft to the Super Bowl.

More than 30 Penn State students, including many from Smeal, were Sustainability Ambassadors at the NFL Draft held April 25 – 27, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn. Marketing professors Karen and Dave Winterich also attended bringing their unique perspective on marketing strategy, behavior change and communications. The students and faculty worked together with the NFL Environment Program to make the fan experience at the draft more environmentally sustainable.

Success Through Partnerships

Power in Numbers - 600,000 people attended the NFL Draft and were potentially reached by this effort

At the NFL Draft, students learned how to manage a large-scale event and how to teach fans, young and old, about sustainability. In addition, they had fireside chats with NFL leaders (VP Operations, VP Communications, Directors of Environmental Programs and SVP Corporate Social Responsibility). In addition, they met with leaders from the Nashville and PepsiCo. All in all a great hands on learning experience for our students. Check out a few student photos from their trip...

What's next for our work the the NFL Environment Program?

We will continue to partner on the Super Bowl and NFL Draft, but we have larger plans. But what else is possible? Imagine how we might see large cultural events in sports, music and the arts as opportunities to engage people in fun and effective ways to educate them about issues of sustainability? A focus on "event sustainability" represents a substantial opportunity, especially for a D-1 and land grant university like Penn State. Millions of people could be reach every year.

During a pivotal scene in DRAFT DAY, Kevin Kostner's character must make a key decision on who to draft. He is in despair. His girlfriend Ali, played by Jennifer Garner says: "There's no such thing as a sure thing. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what you think."

If our work on event sustainability can change how hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people think. We actually think that, at the end of the day, that is a sure thing--perhaps the only thing that help us win this thing.

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