Measuring externalities: The next step to sustainability assessments (2020)

In this conceptual paper, the authors propose that there are two challenges with how sport organizations assess their environmental impact. The first challenge is inconsistent reporting. Compared to organizations in other industries, sport organizations do not subscribe to consistent reporting measures, leading to difficulties with measuring progress both within organization and across the sport industry. The second challenge is the scope of the assessment. The authors point out that with economic impacts, organizations emphasize the externalities of sport facilities and events: the meals eaten on weekend trips, travel to-and-from the facility, hotel stays, the expensive media operations, the partner activations, and so on. Contrastingly, when sport organizations tabulate environmental impact, they tend to minimize the scope of the tabulation to incorporate only those activities happening inside the facility itself. Thus, the scope of measurement in inconsistent when measuring environmental impacts compared to economic impacts. To address these challenges, the authors propose a framework called the Direct and external Environmental Impacts (DeEI) Framework. The DeEI includes both direct impacts (i.e. facility energy and water usage), and indirect impacts (i.e. fan travel, media hotel stays, etc.) The benefits of employing the DeEI framework is a more comprehensive assessment of sustainability efforts, building on life cycle assessment (LCA) best-practice common to other industries.

Cite: McCullough, B.P., Orr, M., Watanabe, N. (2020). Measuring externalities: The imperative next step to sustainability assessment in sport. Journal of Sport Management, Ahead of Print.

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