Boston Celtics, stop accepting sponsorship from Exxon-Mobile

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Organic Torah
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Dear Celtics Management,

I took my 13 year old son to a Celtics game last week and we both had a great time. Jason Tatum seems to get better every time he plays and you never know who else is going to step up: Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris, or even Robert Williams. As a parent, I especially like that the atmosphere at the TD Garden is fun and inclusive and good values are promoted. The Jumbo-Tron keeps us dancing from the oldest to the youngest; people of every size, color and style get a chance to show their moves (my son is up “flossing” and shimmying at every timeout). At half-time there is the inspirational “Heroes Among Us” presentations, to individuals, in this case, who acted quickly with a defibrillator and saved the life of a referee who had had a heart attack during a local game.

So, I was disappointed when I saw that Exxon-Mobil was one of the sponsors. It made me think about how a generation ago it was considered fine and normal to have cigarette advertisements all over on T.V. and at games like this. Then we discovered that not only were cigarettes causing cancer, emphysema and other life-threatening diseases, but that the cigarette companies had known about it for a long time and were actively hiding these facts from the public. Thankfully, we’ve come to realize what was happening and we no longer think of cigarette ads as a normal thing that we’d condone at a family friendly event like a ball game.

We now know that the climate is being altered by the burning of fossil fuels and that it is causing disastrous effects such as more severe hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, flooding and fires. These dramatic events play havoc with the world’s food systems and economies, and play a major role in increased migration and refugees, bringing wars and conflicts to many regions across the globe. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recently warned that the facts are even worse than previously thought. We must make significant changes if we want to avoid world disaster on an unimaginable scale. The U.S. government’s recent report on climate change predicted a 10% decline in the GDP by the end of the century if we don’t shift directions quickly.

Yet, our Federal Government has tried to sidestep or minimize all these reports. Why? One big reason is that companies like Exxon-Mobil have enormous resources and they have the ear of the present administration.

Like the last generation’s cigarette companies, the fossil fuel industry has known about the effects of burning fossil fuels for a long time, but has hidden this knowledge from the public. They have a business plan which calls for the continued conversion of the carbon deposited from ancient forests under the ground in the form of oil into fuel that is burnt and put into the atmosphere. That business plan may be good for their immediate bottom lines, but it spells disaster for life on earth as we know it.

We rightly wanted to protect our children from cancer and emphysema and we succeeded in reining in the worst of the cigarette company’s plans. If we continue in the present trajectory our children will inherit a world of climate cancer and earth emphysema because of the gases that Exxon-Mobil and other fossil fuel companies plan to put into the atmosphere.

I love the Celtics and I can’t wait for the next game to see what amazing things Kyrie will do, or to cheer on Gordon Hayward as he struggles to get back to his old self. You have a great franchise. I don’t pretend to know your business plan, but I doubt that having Exxon-Mobil as a sponsor will make or break the team.

But this is a make or break moment for all of us in the crisis of the climate. As we know from basketball, one player can shift the momentum, turn a game around with a bold steal or a clutch shot. Now, as citizens of Boston, of Massachusetts, of the United States, and of the world, we all need to be game changers; we need to shift the momentum and start to get companies like Exxon-Mobil to understand that their present business plan is unacceptable. Please, Celtics management, drop Exxon-Mobil as a sponsor. Make a move and others will follow. As much as I love to see my son’s face light up when he watches the Celtics play, it’s much more important to me to see him inherit a healthy, safe and livable world.


Rabbi Natan Margalit

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