Student writer Brayden McCoy compiles the data on the impact climate change has had on sports.
With each year gradually growing hotter and 2019 officially recorded as the second-hottest year the world has experienced, a lot of focus is on global warming these days. This increase in global temperature has a myriad of effects that range from changes in the environment to changes in animal migration patterns and plant life cycles. One lesser thought of effect of Global Warming can be found in one of the world’s favorite pastimes, sports and athletic events.
There are numerous sports being threatened by global warming, the most obvious of them are winter sports. A prime example would be Iditarod, the annual, iconic Alaskan dog sled race. In both 2015 and 2017, the race had to be rerouted due to a lack of snow.
According to the Washington Post, Anchorage experienced zero days below zero degrees Fahrenheit in 2014. This is the first time Anchorage has ever experienced such a phenomenon since temperature recording began. It’s not just Alaska that’s feeling the heat either, on Feb. 11, 2017, Oklahoma had cities nearly reaching 100 degrees fahrenheit.
Another winter sport facing problems is Ice Hockey, when played outdoors to be exact. Reports highlighted by ClimateNexus show that from 1951 to 2005, temperatures rose by 4.5 degrees fahrenheit, which led to a decrease in playable days at rinks across the country. The reports specify that many locations in Canada experienced a 20% decrease in the outdoor hockey season.
A 2014 study by the University of Waterloo even predicted that by mid-century around half of previous Winter Olympic host cities would potentially be too warm for usual winter sports and outdoor Alpine sports in particular. The 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia is a prime example with temperatures reaching 61 degrees fahrenheit during the events. The bad snow conditions created a host of complaints, injuries and delays in events like the women’s ski jump and the men’s downhill.
Winter Sports aren’t the only things affected though. Many warm weather sports face their own set of problems from an increase in temperature. One particularly notable example is tennis, especially in regards to world-class events like the Australian Open.
The Australian Open even had to revise their heat policy for 2015 after 2014 saw extreme heat to the degree that it became a serious health issue, leading to cases of hallucinations, vomiting and fainting. Deadspin relayed how the extreme heat caused a litany of issues ranging from players faining on the courts to shoes and water bottles literally melting.
Football is also at risk, with extreme heat combining with the heavily-padded players wear to create dangerously hot and humid conditions. The human body performs worse at high temperatures, when it is more humid, so it should come as no surprise that the sweat-laden pads that football players wear pose a threat during the hotter times of the year. A study by Scientific American focused on high school football found that between 1994 and 2009, deaths due to heat tripled in comparison to the previous 15 years.
There are many other sports and competitions endangered by the gradual rise in heat, thus providing yet another call to action to combat global warming.