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The NBA's big update to the 2023-24 schedule is paying dividends: 'It will be a source of inspiration'

"The NBA is watched by all the other American leagues."

"The NBA is watched by all the other American leagues."

Photo Credit: iStock

Many people have noticed something different about the NBA's schedule during the 2023-24 season, and it turns out the league's players, its fans, and our planet all benefit. 

Similar to MLB, which has long had its teams play multiple games in one city, the NBA has been incorporating more two-game series and longer road trips in its schedule, eliminating not only the potential for uncomfortable jet lag for players but also harmful pollution generated by teams jetting back and forth. 

"The NBA scheduling process is extremely complex, but we continue to take steps to mitigate the impact of travel," Annie Horn, the NBA's Director of Social Responsibility, told The Cool Down. "... This season we had teams play consecutive games against the same opponent in the same city, which both reduces the number of flights for teams as well as total travel miles. These reductions improve overall player rest and well-being while also having the added benefit of reducing our carbon footprint."  

Heading into the season, NBA.com's Casey Holdahl broke down how one Western Conference team would be affected by the adjustments, writing that the Portland Trail Blazers were projected to travel 2,000 fewer miles this season than during the 2022-23 campaign. That follows a previous 5,000-mile reduction from the year before through other improvements to scheduling logistics. 

Aviation accounts for only 2.5% of carbon pollution worldwide, according to Our World in Data, but it has a significant impact on the dangerous overheating of our planet, ultimately creating a "stronger" warming effect through a combination of factors. A European Union study published by Transport & Environment found that two-thirds of aviation's climate impact actually came from non-carbon heat-trapping gases, including contrails — the wispy clouds containing gases such as nitrous oxide that are emitted by airplanes and can linger in the air. 

Researchers have been developing ways to reduce pollution from air travel, which can have a positive impact on local economies, as well as facilitate essential opportunities for human connection. Sustainable fuel sources and hybrid-electric aircraft are among the potential solutions. 

Meanwhile, through the NBA Green initiative, the league is committed to reducing its pollution by 50% by 2030 after eliminating 50,000 miles of aviation impacts in 2022-23. 

"The NBA is watched by all the other American leagues," Game Earth president Benjamin Adler told Le Monde in August 2022, when the league decreased all teams' travel distance by 5%. "So if it sets an example today and decides to take action on this, it will be a source of inspiration, because it has this capacity to be at the cutting edge."

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