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How sports can be a part of solution to global environmental concerns

Reduction in sports-induced negative environmental impacts will make great contributions to environmental sustainability.

ByN Munal Meitei

Updated 28 Aug 2022, 7:08 pm

(Photo: IFP)
(Photo: IFP)

 

Sports play a very significant role in our world today, and it has become one of the rapidly growing sectors in the economic and commercial climate of the modern world. However, environmental threats are increasing due to the intense interest in sports worldwide. Amid the disturbing development, can sports be a part of the solution to the global environmental concerns? No doubt, sport occupies a special place in modern life, with millions of people around the world participating and watching their favorite games. But ironically, despite its ability to entertain and promote health, sports can also degrade the environment. However, to remedy this, people across the world are turning to sports to bring a positive force for environmental protection by adopting sustainable practices.

On this National Sports Day, let’s look at the meeting point of sports and our environment.  

India has been celebrating National Sports Day every year since 2012 on August 29, the birth anniversary of Major Dhyan Chand, the hockey legend to embrace sportsmanship and brotherhood that corners with sports. The objective of celebrating National Sports Day is to highlight the importance of sports in our lives and staying fit and healthy for everyone in the country. This day marks the journey of every sportsman who has made the country proud by representing commendable work achieved through many hours of sweat and hard work.

One of the important events on this day is the distribution of awards by the President of India to outstanding sportspersons of the year with the highly prestigious awards such as Khel Ratna, Arjuna Awards, Dronacharya Awards, Dhyan Chand Award, among others.

Meanwhile, outside India, SC Freiburg, a German football club, is working on car idling to reduce the negative impacts of air pollution by setting up a system where each game ticket allows attendees only to take the train for the day to and from the games.

The Club is also providing awareness and knowledge to educate sports audiences on environmentally friendly things during the events. Other strategies include water filtration fountains to reduce water bottle use, compostable straws, a bike-share program, recycling program and more. All of the team’s operations are also solar and wind-powered.

Soccer, as the world's most popular sport, has the highest emissions. Football grounds, with their massive water use and high energy floodlights, are the site of origin for many environmental impacts.

The FIFA World Cup’s ‘Green Goal’ and Olympic Games’ ‘Green Games’ programmes are examples of an attempt to draw attention to environmental aspects that are likely to be unique to specific collapse.

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Sports for safeguarding the environment, the air and water, education for sustainability is the need of the hour.

Apart from the environmental impact on major sporting events, the link between sports and ecology is not always obvious. However, sports can be part of the solution, whether it is grassroots or professional sports.

Like any human activity, sports take place in a physical environment. This means climate change doesn’t only affect society but also sports. So, it is essential to think about the relationship that plays out between sports and the environment.

As per the International Olympic Committee, the Environment fully deserves to be considered the third pillar of Olympism, after Sport and Culture. The IOC intends to be climate positive and has committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent in 2024 and 45 per cent by 2030.

In addition to these reductions, more than 100 per cent of the remaining carbon emissions will be offset through the Olympic Forest, a project to plant 3,55,000 trees over an area of 2,120 hectares in Mali and Senegal. This will be part of the ‘Great Green Wall’, a pan-African initiative to combat the effects of desertification in the Sahel.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals has three main title groups; Economic development, Environmental sustainability and Improvement of social well-being. One of the most important actors in this process is sports.

Mass facility establishment and increase in organizations in sports accelerate environmental and natural destruction. The sustainability of sports is directly proportional to environmental sustainability. In this way, it will be possible to transfer both the natural environment and sports to future generations.

Increasing environmental concerns have also been linked to sports over time. That is because the negative environmental effects caused by sports have become evident and it has become an area where precautions should be taken for.

It was in 1994 that the relationship between sports and environmental awareness emerged when the United Nations Environment Program and the International Olympic Committee began working together to reduce the environmental impacts of the Olympic and Paralympic games.

Today, interest in the environment is now at the center of management debates in large sports organizations to draw attention to the strengthening of the relationship between sports and the environment.

The main factor that causes climate change by disrupting the natural balance is human behaviors. At the center of sports is the human whose behaviors disturb the natural balance.

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Hence, when any sports facility is on implementation, we must keep the criteria such as conservation of biodiversity, conservation of the ecosystem, correct land use and landscape studies, prevention of pollution (soil, air, water),  resource and waste management and health and safety measures.

The International Olympic Committee has gathered the adverse effects of sports on the environment under two main headings as being the sports organizations and building facilities. It is necessary to detail the environmental effects of sports.

The greenhouse gas emission caused by FIFA held in Russia in 2018 was 1.8 mm tons, which is the same as the emission of 50 lakh families' annual electricity. Again, it was reported that nearly 70,000 tons of waste was generated due to a sports organization and only one per cent of these were recyclable. These reported numerical data are considered to be high compared to the UN environmental sustainability criteria.

The sports industry has a tremendous impact on the natural environment just like any other industry. The sports industry is one of the most important actors in global environmental pollution. To take this dangerous process under control, strategic management skills and new policies must be developed in sports, because environmental threats are increasing due to the intense interest in sports worldwide.

The global interest and demand for sports increase these environmental effects day by day, reaching a level that will disrupt the natural balance.

Hence, sport clubs should invest in green electricity or solar cells which not only reduce costs in the long-term, but might also encourage them to behave more environmentally friendly. Sporting events should promote the usage of public transportation or car sharing opportunities. In the end, it is important to note that all aspects of sports have a link with the natural environment.

Sport is a social institution that will reach future generations with its social, cultural and economic existence. Thus, we can’t set aside sports and also the environment for human survival. Therefore, reduction in the sports-induced negative environmental impacts will make great contributions to environmental sustainability.

This National Sports Day 2022 celebration, we can transfer both the natural environment and sports together to the future generations with a beautiful mother earth. After all, winners don’t wait for chances but take them. Taking up sports activities is a global phenomenon with its physical, spiritual, social, cultural and economic effects on individual and society. A person who engages himself in sports on a regular basis sustains a healthy and wealthy lifestyle. It not only fosters health but keeps your mind fit. Outstanding achievements knock on your door when one is healthy enough to pass all the hurdles in life. 

Today, as all aspects of sports are linked with the natural environment, building not only healthy individuals and strong societies but also environment can be associated with the sports industry. Sports also inspire patriotism and it does not create boundaries between caste, creed, religions and nations. Also, sports can be the strongest driving force for war against drugs among youths in Manipur.

(The views expressed are personal)

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clean environmentsports and environmentnational sports day 2022solution to environmental concerns

N Munal Meitei

N Munal Meitei

Range Forest Officer, Kakching, Manipur

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