Sports Law • Risk Management

July 16, 2010: Global Warming and the Future of Sport and Recreation

Lance Armstrong commented today on the intense heat of the Tour de France and he was not just talking about the competition. Temperatures have climbed to the mid-90’s in the valleys that the cyclists have ridden through. It is July after all. A few decades ago, hot temperatures like this might have been considered a fluke. Now, with global warming upon us, athletes and event organizers have to consider the impact the weather has on sport and recreation.

An obvious solution is to reschedule sports seasons to coincide with cooler months. The Tour de France could be moved to earlier in the spring or to the fall. This could drastically change the athletes’ training and ability to race at other important venues. Shall we reschedule baseball and other traditionally summer sports as well? Does this mean that athletes that play multiple sports throughout their childhood and young adult years will have to choose between sports that are all bunched up during cooler months?

Of course, climate change doesn’t only impact the temperature. It seems that heavy rains, storms and natural disasters are more prevalent. Will moving baseball to earlier in the spring just mean more rainouts? It seems that flooding of sports facilities could also be the unfortunate fallout of global warming. Insurance costs will climb and there will inevitably be loss of use of facilities. Sporting opportunities could decrease as the cost of business soars.

The elephant in the room is---dare I say---winter sports. It’s tragic to contemplate what could become of skiing, snowboarding, bobsledding, luge and the other mountain and cold weather sports that are so popular. Will we have to follow the example of Dubai and create malls containing ski slopes? Let’s enjoy and appreciate what we have for now….and maybe consider reducing our carbon footprints. A hot topic in sport and recreation risk management must be global warming.