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Op-Ed: Athletes for the Earth: Can the Sports Industry really help with climate change?

Earth day is always a date full of news on how the different industries are doing their part to fight climate change, and the sports industry is not one to stay behind. But what do sports have to do with global warming?

As one of the largest sources of greenhouse emissions comes from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation and there is a lot of this involved in professional sports, it turns out a lot.

And although it is not easy to think of international sports competitions without electricity or transportation across countries, athletes, and teams have such a broad reach worldwide, that they can play a key role in raising climate awareness.

Just one video or comment from a soccer or basketball star can have an impact on people’s behavior that it would take years of government policies to achieve. This is why a lot of sports organizations and stakeholders are pushing for athletes and players to set a good example.  

Event organizers are also involved, now more than ever, in the environmental effects both regional and worldwide of the competitions they organize. As the environment continues to deteriorate, sports events that strongly rely on climate conditions are bound to suffer.

As the sports industry both contributes but also suffers the consequences of global warming, it is in its best interest to be part of the solution. Mainstream sports have such a broad and strong social platform that they can easily influence people’s mindsets. They can contribute to educating about environmental issues and promoting a sustainable lifestyle through climate awareness campaigns. Athletes and teams have such a large following on their own, that they can set examples for the younger generations as well.

Studies have found that fans are highly receptive to partake in environmental activities when attending sports events. More importantly, these efforts have proved to translate into their everyday lives. Sports fans have repeatedly expressed that they care a lot about the sustainable impact of their favorite teams and that they wish for teams to take action on environmental issues.

It is also of key importance for sports to incorporate more sustainable production and consumption standards. They can do this by making educated choices and providing financial support to environmental organizations in all their efforts to reduce carbon emissions, reforest degrading lands, and preserve natural landscapes.

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