Greening media sport: sport and the communication of environmental issues

Brett Hutchins, Libby Lester, Toby Miller

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


This chapter examines the contested role of media sport as a “platform” for communicating pro-environmental messages. The potential of media sport in this regard is informed by its longstanding role in the popular communication of political, social, and cultural issues, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, politics, commercialism, nationalism, and citizenship. It is argued that environmentalism and sustainability represent a vital new frontier in this context, especially given the threat posed to the planet by climate change. The role of media sport in this regard is conflicted, involving the promotion of environmental awareness through popular events, activities, technologies, and infrastructures that inevitably generate their own ecological footprints. A range of original examples and evidence is presented throughout the chapter that demonstrate how the uneven process of “greening” media sport is occurring, including a case study of a global mega-event, the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. The evidence presented demonstrates both the growing use and significance of media sport for the communication of environmental messages, and the tensions involved in conducting social activities within carbon- and energy-intensive systems and economies. In building on our analysis, an urgent next step is to imagine what a post-carbon media sports cultural complex looks like, and to assess how media sport might contribute to a fundamental transformation in the resource and energy foundations of global society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunication and Sport
EditorsMichael L. Butterworth
Place of PublicationBerlin Germany
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783110660883, 9783110657159
ISBN (Print)9783110657074
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameHandbooks of Communication Science
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
ISSN (Print)2199-6288


  • Climate change
  • environmental communi
  • Olympics
  • sustainability
  • greenwashing

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