Op Ed

New Rules For Green Sports, Part II


Tuesday’s New Rules For Green Sports post was very well received, on social media and in conversations with GreenSportsBlog readers. Thank you for the feedback! I am glad the idea of picking up the pace of the Greening of Sports struck a nerve.

And, in the interest of striking more nerves, here are two more New Green Sports Rules!


New Green Sports Rule #6: Networks that broadcast sports MUST train their sportscasters about the basics of climate change so that they don’t spout climate change denial on the air! Athletes and sports executives get the training, too.

Sportscasters (and athletes and sports business leaders) often get into trouble when they talk about subjects beyond what’s happening on the field or court. The message to them should be: Only talk about what you know. Of course, this assumes sportscasters and the rest actually know about the sports about which they are talking, but that is a different topic for a different blog.

But, we know sportscasters are going to venture forth beyond the field of play because there’s a lot of dead time during a sports broadcast where nothing is happening. So you gotta say something. And oft times that something comes out without much thought and/or knowledge behind it.

That lack of knowledge comes to the fore when sportscasters try to talk about climate change.

Last January, ESPN college hoops analyst Jimmy Dykes went where he shouldn’t have during a broadcast of the Tennessee-LSU game at a cold Baton Rouge, LA. “I saw two guys today on a national talk show, they were arguing whether or not global warming was still taking place,” Dykes said. “I only listened to 30 seconds of it, but the guy saying, ‘No it has not,’ I think he won the debate. Seriously, like, is this on?”

Play-by-play man Brad Nessler gave one of those sportscasters-will-be-sportscasters laughs and then said, “I was talking to my brother in Minnesota before tip-off. It’s about 50 below wind chill there, so there’s no global warming in that part of the country.” Yuk-Yuk indeed!

Suffice to say Dykes and Nessler are out of their depth on the science of climate change. And, with this New Green Sports Rule #6, they won’t be.

Because, before sportscasters go on the air, they’re going to get a ~45 minute slide show on the basics of climate change from the folks from the Climate Reality Project, the non-profit founded by former Vice President Al Gore that has trained upwards of 6,000 folks from all over the world to give the slide show that was at the heart of his Oscar winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Full disclosure: I was trained by Mr. Gore in August, 2012 and have given about 30 such presentations since.

In fact, I am happy to give the presentation to the folks at ESPN to launch the implementation of this New Rule. Maybe then, the next time Jimmy Dykes decides to weigh in on climate change on a cold night, he might say, “Yeah Brad it’s cold outside here but did you know that 2014 was the planet’s hottest year on record? And that the 10 hottest years in recorded weather history have all come since 1998?”



Jimmy Dykes (l) and Brad Nessler (r) expressed climate change denial during a college basketball broadcast on ESPN in January, 2014. Such commentary will be banned under New Green Sports Rule #6. (Photo credit: ESPN)


New Green Sports Rule #7The ad campaign from the American Petroleum Institute, trumpeting the glories of “safe” fracking is banned. And, if a network violates the ban, language explaining the side effects of fracking must be added to the spots

Have you seen the Energy Tomorrow ad campaign, on the safety of fracking, funded by the American Petroleum Institute (powerful oil industry lobbying group)?

You know the campaign–a woman talks about how great fracking is for the economy, jobs, and how safe it is for the environment. Here’s a link to the most recent version of the spots that have been running for at least the last 5-6 years. They make hydraulic fracking seem safe, warm and cuddly, like the energy equivalent of a stuffed animal.

Most often, the ads run on the Sunday morning talk shows like “Face The Nation” and on AM newsers like MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”. They also sometimes run on sports events.


Energy Tomorrow Lady

Brooke Alexander, spokeswoman for American Petroleum Institute’s Energy Tomorrow campaign. You won’t see her spots on sports events with New Green Sports Rule #7 in effect. (Photo credit: API)


Well, now, with New Green Sports Rule #7, they won’t.

And, if a network defies this rule, the penalty will be severe: It will have to also run the equivalent of the “prescribing information” that you see on TV spots for prescription drugs that say something like “you could risk heart attack, stroke, or death” if you take this drug.

In the case of the Fracking Is Great (my term) spots, the added information could go something like this: “Fracking accidents do happen and cause polluted ground water, often making it unsafe for drinking. Methane often leeches from fracking sites and that methane if a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. Fracking also has been known to cause mini-earthquakes from Ohio to Texas. Etc. Etc.”

Actually, it may be a good thing for the ESPN’s of the world to run the spots after all.



Please comment below!

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  1. Greensportsblog, great stuff. What is the action plan to ensure implementation? Changing long-lived practices seems arduous.

  2. You’re right, TSI–this is an arduous task but I’m up for the challenge! For GreenSportsBlog’s part, we’re going to send the New Rules to the Commissioner’s Office of each of the North American professional sports leagues (MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, and NHL) and see what, if any, reaction we get.

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