Greener game days

Douglas Luippold

Despite the unity created by 100,000 individuals wearing burnt orange and chanting the same cheers, UT football is deceptively controversial.

Mack Brown’s enormous salary, the special privileges and amenities available to athletes and the general perception that UT is a football team first and an academic institution second are just some points of contention for members of the UT community whose Saturdays do not include a trip to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Some of these issues are pervasive throughout college athletics and could only be resolved through a national discussion or major NCAA policy shift.  

Other differences are simply matters of taste — some fans see non fans as modern day grinches who spend their Saturday afternoons plotting ways to deprive thousands of happy fans of their weekly burnt-orange festival. Conversely, some non fans see fans as a clamoring herd, barely evolved from their blood-lusting Roman ancestors who regularly packed the Colosseum to revel in violent combat.

There are, however, a few critiques about UT football that can be addressed locally, and because so many problems can only be addressed through a national policy change or ideological shift, then Longhorns — both grinches and barbarians — should try to fix what they can.

One such problem is the environmental damage that occurs on game days. Even the most ardent supporter of Texas football cannot deny that game days are horrible for the environment.
When 100,000 people spend the day eating and drinking outdoors in a concentrated area, tons of trash is inevitable. However, whether the trash is simply sent off to a landfill or responsibly and sustainably disposed should be an issue for anyone who cares about UT. One way to reduce the environmental damage of football games is by participating in the Game Day Challenge.

Sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Game Day Challenge is a contest where any college with a football team can design and implement a waste-reduction plan for an October home game. Schools measure and report the weight of waste they recycled, reused, donated and disposed of during that game and compete with other schools for the best overall waste-reduction rate.

The Game Day Challenge lets Longhorns to do one of their favorite things: beat other schools.

UT has implemented some measures to reduce waste on game day. Since 1996, UT Athletics and local businesses have sponsored the Longhorn Recycling Roundup, which oversees recycling bins around the stadium. While the program claims to have one of the highest successes of any stadium this size, asking students to recycle is not enough. UT should take a more comprehensive and proactive approach to sustainable waste reduction.

Despite the efforts of students and staff, UT still does not have the strongest reputation for sustainability. Until recently, students with the Campus Environmental Center, not the University itself, oversaw recycling across campus, and campus recycling still feels largely arbitrary and peripheral. A strong showing in the Game Day Challenge could have a symbolic impact in addition to providing environmental benefits.

UT hosts two home games in October, one against Iowa State and another against Baylor. While we know the November elections will weigh heavily on student leaders’ minds, we hope they will also focus on non-political ways to improve campus and take the Game Day Challenge.