The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Will climate change affect sports? It already has.

Rising average temperatures and sea level are limiting what sports can happen where.

Rising average temperatures around the world are a problem for the Winter Olympics. Not as many places may be able to host the Games in the future because they will be too warm for snow sports. (AFP/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden met this week with world leaders at the United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland. KidsPost is publishing stories about the worldwide climate problem.

I’m the sports guy at KidsPost. So what does climate change have to do with sports? A lot.

Climate change is the change in the world’s average temperatures and weather patterns caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas and others).

As a result of climate change, places are experiencing rising temperatures that may cause droughts and wildfires such as those in California and Australia. Climate change may also be causing more severe weather such as heavy rainstorms and hurricanes. In addition, ocean levels are rising.

All this affects sports in many ways. Rising temperatures mean shorter winters. This threatens winter sports such as downhill and cross-country skiing.

Are you looking forward to the Winter Olympics in February? A recent study estimated that because of rising temperatures only 11 of the 20 sites that have hosted a Winter Olympics would be able to host the Winter Games in 2050. Nine of the sites may become too warm for snow sports.

I like golf. Some of the world’s greatest golf courses are built near an ocean. Rising sea levels may threaten these courses in the coming years.

Some climate consequences are happening now. Officials at this summer’s Olympic Games moved the marathons and distance-walking events to a more northern city because of the heat in Tokyo, Japan. Tennis players at the 2020 Australian Open were affected by the smoke from nearby wildfires.

More storms and heavy rains will mean more canceled games and events. This may affect high school and kids’ games more, because their athletic fields typically do not drain as well as fields where professionals play.

Some sports people are trying to do something about the problem.

The United Nations on Wednesday urged sports teams to meet the environmental targets they signed up for at the 2015 climate conference.

The Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington, is the new home of the Kraken of the National Hockey League and the Storm of the Women’s National Basketball Association. It’s the first sports venue in the world with a pledge to be “carbon-neutral,” meaning that it won’t pollute the environment like other sports venues.

The arena’s owners plan to achieve its carbon-neutral status in part by using only renewable electric energy and recycled water. The ice that the Kraken teammates play on, for example, is made of recycled water.

The majority of food served at the arena comes from local farmers, and leftovers are donated to food banks.

The arena plans to stop using single-use plastics by 2024. The teams also urge spectators to use electric cars and public transportation and not fuel-burning cars to travel to games and concerts.

The owners plan to make public the progress toward their goal in the years to come.

Climate change is a big problem. It will take everyone working together — as players on winning sports teams do — to make things better.

Read more Score columns:

Sports has shown a dark side, but that doesn’t mean kids should stop playing

Washington Capitals have proven stars, but they need to look to the future

The Wizards gave up a star, but they got 4 role players this season

To our commenters

A reminder from the KidsPost team: Our stories are geared to 7- to 13-year-olds. We welcome discussion from readers of all ages, but please follow our community rules and make comments appropriate for that age group.