Cricket Ball


What impact does climate change have on sport? It may be a lot more than you think.

Sport has become something of a leisurely and competitive part of our lives. A time to join together with friends and family in supporting the teams you love, or a time perhaps to play for your representative team. But how long will it be able to continue if the climate changes reach extreme levels predicted?

The covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on sports across the world, but now that our world is starting to “open up” again and return to some state of “normal”, how far back to “normal” can we go? Climate change is something that has affected our planet for a long time, and every year it is bought up on our news feeds and for the most part ignored, just to be repeated the next year. But the more that our planet warms up due to carbon dioxide emissions, the less sport we’re going to see.

Already we are seeing games being canceled; baseball games due to rainfall[1], flooder football pitches[2] and golf courses eroded by the sea[3]. No sport, major nor minor, is exempt from climate change. Allen Hershkowitz, environmental science advisor to the New York Yankees said that “every community that hosts a professional sports venue, a sports stadium or arena, is going to be affected by global climate disruption, by climate change, whether through storm surges, precipitation, stronger hurricanes, wildfires, droughts”.

On top of environmental impacts, The World Health Organization (WHO) made a statement that heat is damaging to health. They say that “exposure to excessive heat has wide ranging physiological impacts for all humans, often amplifying existing conditions and resulting in premature death and disability”[4]. Extreme heat is a major health hazard because it can cause disruption to the body’s thermoregulation. Heat stress can cause muscle cramps, profuse sweat, thirst, fatigue, and heat exhaustion. Because athletes perform and play in these conditions. They are exposing themselves to the heat and have a chance of symptoms like chills and have nerve system problems that impair coordination and decision making.

One sport that is often played in extreme heat is cricket. Fans of the sport that watched The Ashes in 2018, held in Sydney, Australia, will know that England captain Joe Root was taken to hospital during the fifth Test between England and Australia. The temperature that day reached 57 degrees Celsius. The 30-year-old suffered from severe dehydration, diarrhea and vomiting overnight because of a viral gastroenteritis bug[5].

The sport adapted to this was by introducing the “extreme heat policy” which allows umpires of the match to halt the game due to heat. This however poses a threat to the sport because it means that in countries like Australia, there is a risk that cricket will rarely be played. Other sports that have been impacted by climate change include tennis, athletics, and football.

In previous articles we have covered just some of the solutions that the sport industry is implementing to reduce carbon emissions, but it is clear that all businesses and consumers must unite or face further unprecedented challenges. At TMA we believe that sustainability is a major factor for businesses across the world, especially as it is a high generator for return of investment when customers are aware that they are supporting a sustainable product or service, and part of our role is to help give sustainability the recognition it deserves by supporting sustainable events and campaigns in the fit and healthy sporting industry.

Reference sources:

1.Game postponed due to weather

2.Floods drown football club

3.Golf course redesigned due to sea erosion

4.The impact of heat on our health

5.England Captain Joe Root scores after treatment