When most people think about carbon footprints, most will imagine a factory burning fossil fuels or a car’s exhaust. But does anyone think of their favorite sports team? The truth is a professional athlete’s carbon footprint is large.
For instance, there are typically 162 games in a baseball season, excluding the post-season and spring training. In almost all of those games, one of the teams is traveling by plane. That’s a lot of flights.
This problem isn’t exclusive to just baseball. All professional athletes travel a lot, and it is having an impact.
What Can Really Be Done About It?
Many might already realize that traveling is a necessary part of any sport. So the real question is how can it be reduced, but in this case, the better word is optimized.
Baseball is a terrific example because the seasons are long and the teams are from all around the United States (and Canada). In some cases, larger sites even have more than one team, with probably the most well-known being the New York Yankees and New York Mets.
One of the biggest problems is that the schedules don’t make much sense from a traveling perspective. You’ll have teams flying back and forth across the country, instead of more optimized paths. It’s extremely inefficient.
Optimizing the schedules to involve less traveling could easily cut emissions by close to 5%.
Of course, traveling isn’t the only impact to consider.
Why Are Major Sporting Events At Night?
Ever notice how most sporting events are at night? This is by design because more people are home to enjoy them or free to actually go to the game. It would be far more difficult if it was during school and work hours.
This definitely makes sense from a convenience factor, but not from an emissions standpoint.
Instead of relying on natural lighting, outside sporting events must rely on artificial illumination. And yup, you guessed it, that consumes a lot of electricity. The good news is that at least some stadiums are adding solar panels.
For instance, Chase Fields, home to the Arizona Diamondbacks, has a 75 kWh solar pavilion. This creates shade for the guests and produces energy for the stadium. Another great example is Levi’s Stadium, home to the San Francisco 49ers football team, which has over 1,000 solar panels.
Adding solar technology to stadiums is the perfect solution, but not many stadiums do it. But wait, how does that solve the night game problem?
It would essentially offset the night games. During the days, the solar panels would collect energy for the electric grid. In fact, these panels would likely generate more power than the stadium would use at night.
Athletes Can Do More to Reduce Their Carbon footprint
The bottom line is that athletes and sports organizations can do more to reduce their carbon footprint. The good news is that many are interested in doing just that.
For example, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Brent Suter is a huge advocate of the Sidelining Carbon Initiative. The idea is pretty simple and tackles the two major problems.
Traveling teams will offset their emissions by calculating how much they produce from travel during a season. Meanwhile, home teams will source renewable energy to power their stadiums.
So far, the teams participating include the Milwaukee Brewers and Dallas Mavericks.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.