Soccer Ejects TruGreen/Chemlawn
(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2005) U.S. Youth Soccer (USYS) has quietly ended its sponsorship agreement with TruGreen/ChemLawn, after public interest groups and interested people from across the country launched a letter campaign to the soccer association asking that it not renew its agreement. As a part of the agreement TruGreen/Chemlawn was given access to the association’s mailing lists and sent mailings to “The Family of” young soccer players to promote the use of ChemLawn’s services. The mailings explicitly stated that TruGreen/ChemLawn would donate a percentage of each purchase to USYS. USYS ended the partnership without comment.
Josh Golin, program
manager for Campaign
for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), which spearheaded a letter
and campaign to end the USYS-TruGreen/ChemLawn alliance, said that while
USYS has no comment, “It is clear that the letter –and all
of our efforts—played a key role in U.S. Soccer’s decision
to end the partnership.” Mr. Golin said, “It is great that
ChemLawn will no longer be able to exploit children's love of soccer
to market toxic pesticides to families. And it is gratifying to see
all of our efforts make a real difference.”
Thirty prominent children’s and environmental organizations sent a public letter in October 2004 to USYS asking them not to renew their sponsorship agreement with TruGreen/ChemLawn. Numerous individuals and grassroots organizations wrote letters of their own. The groups and people that wrote letters cited concerns about the exploitation of children in marketing hazardous products to them and their families.
At the time, Dr. Susan Linn, of Harvard’s Judge Baker Children’s Center and author of Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood said, “These mailings are not only a violation of children’s privacy, but a transparent attempt to get children to nag their parents for ChemLawn’s services.” Dr. Linn continued, “Marketers are constantly looking for ways to make it harder for parents to say no – in this case by equating support of their children’s soccer team with hiring a company to dump pesticides on their lawn.”
It has long been
identified that children are more susceptible to the effects of pesticides
than adults. In 1993 The National Academy of Sciences found that children
are more susceptible to chemicals. The announcement followed several
studies with similar conclusions including one published in the peer-reviewed
Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1987, which found that children
in households that use home and garden pesticides are 6.5 times at higher
risk of developing leukemia. Other studies have since associated exposure
to lawn pesticides with birth defects, liver and kidney damage, and
neurological disorders. Today it is common knowledge that children are
more likely to come into contact with lawn pesticides and are more vulnerable
to their effects.
The letter was written by CCFC, formerly Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children, a national advocacy group that counters the harmful effects of marketing to children. Signatories included Beyond Pesticides and other organizations concerned about the harmful effects of pesticides and the commercialization of childhood.
The letter called on USYS to:
Editors Note: Thanks to all those who contacted U.S. Yourth Soccer on this issue.
TAKE ACTION: Please write a thank you note to U.S. Youth Soccer’s Director of Marketing Chris Branscome. For more information about the hazards of lawn and landscape chemicals, see Beyond Pesticides Lawns and Landscapes program page. To join Beyond Pesticides’ campaign to stop the aesthetic use of pesticides, contact Eileen Gunn.