GSB News and Notes: Will New Fox Sports-Nat Geo Partnership Cover Environmental Stories at 2018 World Cup in Russia, Pebble Beach Pro-Am Gets 2nd Green Certification


Fox Sports and National Geographic enter into an interesting and, it says here, potentially troubling partnership around the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The 2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am earned its second consecutive gold level certification from the Council for Responsible Sport. Yes, it is time for your midweek GSB News & Notes!

A press release caught my eye two weeks ago. It came from Fox Sports, announcing its partnership with National Geographic to “cover the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ in Russia as the World Cup has never been covered before.” In it, Eric Shanks, FOX Sports President and Chief Executive Officer, offered that, “Our goal is to take advantage of the substantial editorial access our colleagues at National Geographic have already established in Russia, which will clearly add a depth and texture to our storytelling, especially the features, vignettes and bumpers intended to capture the country’s beauty, diversity and culture.”
What will the partnership look like? Per Fox Sports, “Early plans include a National Geographic hosted and curated consumer expedition to the World Cup; feature stories for National Geographic Magazine and National Geographic Traveler; a guide and special edition magazines devoted to the World Cup as well as Russian culture and history; utilization of National Geographic’s extensive social reach and platforms and creation of digital and on-air maps covering the region.”

The beautiful countryside near Nizhny-Novgorod, Russia; one of the cities that will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Scenes like this may be shown to US audiences through the partnership announced last week between Fox Sports and National Geographic. (Photo credit: RussiaTrek.com)

This sounds all well and good, right?
My concern about this partnership lies in what was not in the press release rather than what was.
Given the failure of the Russian government to live up to its environmental promises in the run up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, one would think the release would’ve made mention about how the Fox Sports/NatGeo partnership would, in addition to covering the natural beauty of Russia, also cover stories of environmental degradation in the country and its seeming unwillingness to act decisively on climate change.
Enviro Protestor Russia

Environmental activist protesting Russia’s disregard for the ecosystems around Sochi during the construction boom in the run-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics. Will the National Geographic/Fox Sports partnership cover similar stories if they occur in advance of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia? (Photo credit: Environmental Watch of the North Caucasus)

Not wanting to jump to conclusions about the partnership’s full intentions as to how it will cover the Russia-Environment story, GreenSportsBlog reached out several times last week to the Fox Sports communications team to see what was what. To date, we’ve not heard back from them.
Which raises one more concern: Fox Sports and National Geographic are owned by the same corporate parent, NewsCorp (NatGeo was acquired last fall). NewsCorp also owns Fox News, not the first network one thinks of when one thinks of “aggressive, science-based climate change coverage.”
I am not conspiratorial by nature but, in this case, my antennae are raised just a little bit.
Will National Geographic be able to fully pursue its “passionate belief in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world” as it goes about telling the story of the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia? Or, will it be party to a “greenwashing by omission” of sorts? We shall see.

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, an early season mainstay of the PGA TOUR, and played on one of the most beautiful and beloved courses in the world, can again say it’s one of the most sustainable tournaments on tour as it was announced today that the tournament has earned a second-consecutive Gold level certification from the Council for Responsible Sport (“Council).
Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach Golf Links, 5-time host of the US Open (#6 will be in 2019) and home of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which received Gold level certification from the Council for Responsible Sport. (Photo credit: Monterey Peninsula Foundation)

Council certification formally recognizes successful implementation of socially and environmentally responsible best practices at sporting events, with a strong heritage in the certification of road races.
Golf is stepping up to join the Council’s certified-sustainable events party and that is, indeed, welcome news. The Shell Houston Open and the über-green Waste Management Phoenix Open – have earned certification status from the Council, along with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
This year’s tournament earned credit across all five categories of standards including planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity and community legacy.
The Monterey Peninsula Foundation, the tournament’s host, enhanced and expanded its commitment to moving towards ‘zero waste’ by working with vendors and suppliers before the 2016 event, and finding creative uses for materials that otherwise would become waste. The level of detail shown by the Foundation in the tournament’s greening efforts is extraordinary. Don’t believe me? Here are some of the tournament’s environmental accomplishments:

  • 48,860 pounds of laminate flooring, wood and carpet were donated to a local reuse outlet;
  • The Monterey Peninsula Foundation 1) donated an electric vehicle charging station to the City of Seaside as part of a campaign to offset 100% of the event carbon emissions locally, 2) purchased enough renewable energy to offset all energy used to stage the event, and 3) calculated the carbon footprint of all event operations, travel and marketing related to the event;
  • 20 yards of cloth from inside the Player’s Hospitality area was donated to the local animal shelter, to line cages;
  • 1,600 pounds of banner material was sent to a company that repurposes it to make computer/messenger bags;
  • An estimated 6,500 chip bags were sent to TerraCycle to be “upcycled” into backpacks;
  • The City of Gonzales picked up 3,000 pounds of plywood to help repair batting cages in city parks;
  • The Monterey County Food Bank picked up leftover food each night during the tournament. The total donated was 13,500 pounds;
  • Only 2 of 120 dumpsters pulled from the event were considered actual trash; the rest was recycled or composted.

The Council’s Certification Director, Shelley Villalobos, lauded the effort, saying, “with this gold level recertification, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am team has shown a strong commitment to both rigor and transparency—qualities that have helped them advance their performance in many aspects of hosting a more sustainable event, from waste management and diversion to procurement and creating a lasting legacy.”


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1 Comment

  1. Sept 18 is the big day, where?

    Sherri Steeneck, Realtor
    The Higgins Group
    1499 Post Rd
    Fairfield, CT 06824

    Sent from my Sprint Samsung Galaxy® Note 4.

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