Make climate action your pregame warmup

Why you should be worried about the future of sports

You might wonder where the crossover is between sports and wanting to fight climate change. Sports and environmentalism seem worlds apart, but they’re more interconnected than they seem.

If you care about sports as an institution, you owe it to yourself to be more climate-conscious. Summer sports are getting dangerous and winter sports are becoming endangered.

Winters are getting warmer. According to figures from the federal government, since 1948, Canada has become on average 1.7°C warmer.

At our current pace, warming winters will begin to curtail the viability of ski hills. Downhill winter sports will continue to become more expensive and tougher to access.

According to York University’s Laboratory of Mathematical Parallel Systems, Toronto, which currently sees 16 nights where temperatures reach -15°C or below, will see four by 2050 and just one by 2100, if current trends continue.

That means your outdoor rink will be slush, you won’t be able to find anywhere to watch ski jumping, and you can kiss your snowshoeing goodbye.

The loss of winter sports might feel pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and maybe it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valid. Sports are a valuable part of life, and they’re going to suffer from the climate crisis just like everything else.

If you’re not willing to take action to address this crisis for your grandkids, do it for their football careers.

Kingston has four days a year with a sustained average of 30°C over a 24-hour period. It’s projected to have 30 by
2050. And that’s accounting for the moderating effect of Lake Ontario. Other municipalities across Canada and the rest of the world are going to have it worse.

These high temperatures can be dangerous for athletes (not to mention the elderly). Exertional Heat Stroke is the
third-most suffered injury in sports. It’s especially frequent in football, owing to heavy equipment and old-school coaching methods like restricting water intake or assigning sprints as punishment.

Exertional Heat Stroke occurs when somebody has exerted themselves to the point that they can’t sweat out the excess heat, and their core temperature rises to a point that their cells start to denature. This can cause failure of the kidneys, liver, and the brain.

So, outside of food insecurity, ocean acidification and pandemics, you have to worry about being more likely to have your cells explode during intense exercise.

Sports—not just the finished product that you see on TV or that we write about here, but the entire culture surrounding them, that massive space they occupy in our collective consciousness—are going to erode. If you care about sports, you should also care about your carbon footprint.

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