10 July 2010

sporting green


Sunday is the big day for the beautiful game. All the drama and passion of such an event also makes me wonder about the footprint of sports. It is a large category to cover as there are many kind of sports but for the purpose of the post, I shall limit it to spectator sports in giant stadiums.

In June this year the F1 teams said that they aim to reduce their carbon footprint by 12.4% over the next three years as well as increase fuel efficiency of the cars. There is a discussion of whether motor-racing should even be allowed at this conjuncture but I shall leave that debate to the extreme environmentalists.

The sports industry is mega-bucks. From the designing of sporting equipments, transportation, distribution, marketing, disposal and various other steps in between the LCA of a sporting event is mind-bogglingly complicated. Just thinking about LCA and footprint of a major sports company like Nike or Adidas proves this point. The amount of resources that goes into major events like the Olympics or the World Cup rests this case.

The organization of events of this magnitude puts enormous pressure on both renewable and non-renewable resources, creates noise and light pollution, disturbs local ecosystems and creates new waste-streams. UNEP has categorized environmental impacts of sport and lately there are several spotlights on the topic of greening of the sporting experience.

Several teams in the NFL, Major League and NBA have made attempts to green their teams. The Boston Red Sox have plans to 'green' Fenway Park and Philadephia Eagles have been touted as the greenest team of the NFL. Games with year-round seasons have a higher footprint than games with shorter seasons. Energy used in the stadiums also count - for this reason, basketball is better than hockey.

The FIFA World Cup is being touted as being one of the greenest world cups ever played. However there is evidence to the contrary that suggests that this may not be true. According to the article in CNN, this cup has a footprint 6 times larger than the one played in 2006. Although several initiatives were taken there was a lot more that could've been done to make this cup a greener, more eco-friendly event taking a cue from an enterprising businessman who makes vuvuzuelas from kelp.

The 2012 London Olympics are said to be the most eco-friendly sports event ever planned. The planning committee is looking beyond the games to see how the new facilities can be put to use in the future. The planning committee has won awards recently for commitment towards health, safety and environmental standards. The website has a whole section devoted to the sustainability initiatives in place and worth is having a look at. The Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi later this year is also doing its share to reduce the footprint of the event. The organizers have also tied up with UNEP for guidance and advice.

There are several things that spectators can do to reduce their impact and as with everything else starts from being eco-conscious about your personal impact.

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