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Environment and Sports

The consequences of environmental degradation and climate change will affect everybody and every system put in place by man-kind including sports.  As a society, sports have become a huge part of our social as well as our economic life.  We depend on sports to keep us active, healthy and make new human connections. Due to the current obesity levels, children are being encouraged to participate in sports and some developed countries like Canada have created tax credits incentives for parents to enroll their children in some kind of sporting activity.

Economically, the sports industry including sports tourism has become a huge money-making activity for businesses and governments. According to a report by A.T. Kearney, the sports industry today is an all-embracing business that spans the field of play from the food and memorabilia stands at the stadium, to media rights and sponsorship. It was stated that as much as €450 billion ($620 billion) is spent every year in the sports industry, which is catering to an ever-more eager fan base.

This complex business environment features numerous participants from rights owners (clubs, leagues, federations and athletes) to sports agencies, online betting businesses such as NetBet, sponsors and broadcasters all competing for a bigger slice of the pie. In 2015, CNN, reported on a new app connecting fans to player.

According to Forbes, the sports market in North America was worth $60.5 billion in 2014 and it’s expected to reach $73.5 billion by 2019.

In all these calculations and projections, I see no where the impacts of climate change is mentioned. According to UNEP, the following as copied from their website are the environmental threats to sports:

  1. Air pollution : May cause respiratory illness and difficulty in breathing
  2. Indoor air quality: Same as above
  3. Toxic chemicals: May cause severe physiological reactions
  4. Pesticides: Same as above
  5. Water pollution/bacteria: Same as above
  6. Noise pollution: May cause hearing difficulties and stress
  7. Cigarette smoke: Exposure to this will reduce the supply of oxygen to the body
  8. Ozone layer depletion: Will increase UV radiation exposure and skin problems including cancer
  9. Climate change: Unpredictable and extreme weather patterns may make it difficult to engage in sport
  10. Habitat/biodiversity loss: May lead to loss of natural areas to practice sport

So what do we do? Do we still anticipate making all that money from sports if we do nothing to mitigate or adapt to the changing climate? We talk about disruptive technologies, what about disruptive climate change?

Obie Agusiegbe
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