Happy Friday! In a TGIF GreenSportsBlog News & Notes, we feature a diverse trio of stories:
Russell Martin, currently player-coach for Walsall F.C. in the third tier of English football, recently made waves by announcing he’s switched his political affiliation to the Green Party. “Awesome Planet,” a part of the Xploration Station three-hour block of science-focused television shows airing on FOX stations, recently aired an episode featuring eco-athletes. And Patagonia, the über-green outdoor clothing and gear company, announced it will donate the $10 million it saved as a result of the 2017 Trump/GOP tax cuts to environmental non-profits.
RUSSELL MARTIN TAKES A POLITICAL STAND AS ECO-ATHLETE
Russell Martin has earned fame as an international footballer, playing for the Scottish National Team as well as for Norwich City F.C. when it was a member of the English Premier League^.
Now the player-coach at Walsall F.C., which currently plays in England’s third tier, Martin’s notoriety will likely jump up a notch or two, thanks to his recent announcement that he’s joined the U.K.’s Green Party.
Russell Martin (#4 in blue), in action for Scotland against Germany in 2015 (Photo credit: Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)
“I’ve voted Labour all my life,” Martin told Stuart James in the November 23rd issue of The Guardian. “But knowing…what the [Green] Party represents, I just thought this aligns with my values and morals.”
Those values and morals include water conservation and veganism.
On water, “I used to get peppered at Norwich because I was always saying: ‘Turn the tap off’ when the lads brushed their teeth in the changing room,” Martin related to James.
Regarding his eating habits, Martin shared with James that he’s “been a vegan for four years, plant-based, so that awakens you socially to become a lot more conscious about things. I’ll be honest, that wasn’t for ethical reasons at first, it was purely health. I was struggling with ulcerative colitis and I did a lot of research into diet and what could help. But then when you become involved in that it raises your awareness of the ethical side. You actually look at it and think: ‘This makes sense.’”
Martin put his money where his mouth is when he became part-owner of Erpingham House, the largest vegan restaurant in Great Britain. He also owns an EV and promotes sustainability and environmental awareness to the children who pass through his Russell Martin Foundation, based in his home town of Brighton, which started as a football academy but is now a registered charity.
Russell Martin (Photo credit: Jonny Weeks, The Guardian)
Despite the time and energy that the dual player-coach roles demand, Martin is happy to take on the environment and climate change. “There’s stuff we can’t control – the Brexit madness – but there’s stuff that we can have an influence on and help future generations,” he told James. “I’ve got three young kids and I want it to look as good as possible for them by the time they hit my age.”
GSB’s Take: Russell Martin is one of a small but growing number of athletes who are speaking out on environmental issues, including climate change. He seems unfazed by any potential backlash. Martin told James that he’s “past the point of worrying what others think. It’s not like: ‘Is it going to harm my employment opportunities because of where I vote and what I stand for?’ If it did, I wouldn’t want to work for those people anyway.”
Given Martin’s willingness to speak out on environmental and climate issues, his top level playing pedigree, and his newfound coaching experience, it would not surprise me one bit to see him coaching for Forest Green Rovers, the world’s Greenest Team in Sports. Currently FGR resides in England’s fourth tier, one level below Walsall.
GREEN-SPORTS FEATURED ON FOX NETWORK’S “AWESOME PLANET” SATURDAY MORNING TV SHOW
Explorer Phillippe Cousteau, Jr. has, for the past five seasons, taken young viewers on adventures all over the world on “Awesome Planet.” The show is part of the three-hour Xploration Station block of science-based programming that airs on FOX stations across the U.S.
“Planet Awesome” host Phillippe Cousteau, Jr. and his wife Ashlan prepare for a dive off the coast of the Marshall Islands (Photo credit: Phillippe Cousteau, Jr.)
In October, the grandson of the legendary aquatic conservationist and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau devoted an entire half-hour episode to three eco-athletes:
- GreenSportsBlog fave and Olympic silver medal-winning snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, advocating for action on climate to ensure that snow sports can continue to thrive in her native Colorado
- Surfer Zane Schweitzer, who showed kids how plastic ocean waste is impacting the beaches of Hawaii
- Boxer Jose Ramirez, fighting for access to fresh water in California as a member of the Latino Water Coalition
Surfer Zane Schweitzer’s segment on “Planet Awesome” (5 mins 7 secs)
The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles also made an appearance, as they were lauded for their leadership role in bringing highly visible solar installations to stadiums.
Awesome Planet draws an average weekly audience of 750,000 viewers.
GSB’s Take: Every survey I’ve seen shows that American 16-23 year-olds, the older half of Gen-Z*, favor substantive action on climate change. Thus it’s not surprising that Awesome Planet would feature athletes and teams who are engaged in the climate change fight and other environmental issues. Concern about climate change polls over 50 percent among all age groups, across the political spectrum, with the exception of the most conservative Republicans. That tells me that programming highlighting eco-athletes targeted to a general audience would go over well. Hint to CBS Sports: How about a Green-Sports segment during the many hours of your Super Bowl LIII pregame coverage?
PATAGONIA TO GIVE ITS ENTIRE TRUMP TAX CUT WINDFALL TO ENVIRONMENTAL CHARITIES
Patagonia said last month that it will donate the $10 million it saved from recent tax cuts to environmental protection groups. In a withering letter, CEO Rose Marcario called the Trump- and GOP-backed tax cuts “irresponsible.” Changes to the corporate tax rate went into effect in 2018, giving corporations a massive boost by dropping their tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.
Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario (Photo credit: Patagonia)
“Instead of putting the money back into our business, we’re responding by putting $10 million back into the planet,” Marcario wrote in the statement. “Our home planet needs it more than we do.”
The company said the donations would be incremental to its existing “One Percent for the Planet” pledge through which it has donated one percent of its sales each year since 1985 for “preservation and restoration of the natural environment.” According to Forbes, Patagonia revenue topped $750 million in 2017.
According to Ryan Miller, writing in USA Today on November, 29th, the company plans to give the $10 million to “groups committed to protecting air, land and water and finding solutions to the climate crisis.”
The company’s announcement came less than a week after a Trump administration report warned of the dire threat that human-caused climate change poses to the United States and its citizens. President Trump told reporters “I don’t believe it,” when asked about the study’s conclusions.
GSB’s Take: I yield the floor here to Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard for his take on the tax cut and the Trump administration’s approach to climate change: In a companion statement to CEO Marcario’s, Chouinard said, “Our government continues to ignore the seriousness and causes of the climate crisis. It is pure evil.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
* Gen-Z is made up of people born from 1995-2012
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