Nature’s Scoreboard 

The environmental impact of sports

Mizuki Kinoshita (She/Her) // Contributor 
Siobhan Barry (She/Her) // Illustrator 

A lot of people in the world like to play or watch sports — or enjoy a combination of the two. While they can be fun and beneficial for staying healthy, people are also impressed by sports games and athletes. However, sports can play a part in damaging the natural environment and could also have an impact on athletes.

One example of climate change is many athletes experiencing heat stroke during crucial matches due to the effects of climate change. Paula Badosa is a professional tennis player who suffered the effects of heat stroke during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. This resulted in her having to drop out of her quarterfinal match. Novak Djokovic is another professional tennis player who was suffering from the heat but was able to manage by using ice and air conditioning to avoid heatstroke in the Tokyo Olympics. With summers getting increasingly hotter, more solutions need to be arranged for these games. 

Big sporting events like the Olympics or the World Cup cause lots of damage to the environment. Many people come from all over the world to participate. This includes athletes, trainers, family members, staff, medical, security and the plethora of fans. There are huge amounts of gas emissions from everyone’s traveling and there are even more emissions from transporting materials for building the stadium, selling products, foods, beverages and bringing equipment for athletes.

When these big sporting events are held, there is also much more waste being produced. All the plastic bottles, wasted foods, supplies and other goods. After a sports event is finished, a lot of materials that were used in the building of these stadiums or facilities will all be garbage too.

Another major concern is that swimming pools also affect the environment. They require a lot of water, chemicals, and energy to produce clean and safe swimming pools. The energy to prepare the water and keep the water warm even causes environmental effects including CO2 emissions. Furthermore, if water containing chemicals is released into the environment, it will cause water pollution, and destroy the habitat of animals, fish and other marine animals. 

On a much smaller scale, even gyms create waste. While they help keep the public active and healthy with loads of equipment and supplies, it’s often not recyclable. Once a machine breaks, or it’s time for a new and updated one, the previous one is just garbage. 

This is not to deny all activities of sports. It is to shine light on how even in sports there’s lots of emissions and waste. There should be solutions that consider the ecological footprint that sports have too. 

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