The sports industry is feeling the heat of climate change. As global temperatures continue to rise, the industry is struggling with how to adjust.

According to a report from David Goldblatt, a renowned historian of sport, the industry is worth around $550 billion each year. While the industry will have a smaller carbon footprint, generally, compared to other industries—such as manufacturing—it still has a long way to go.

For one, the industry is heavily reliant on air travel and shipping for transporting athletes, fans, and equipment around the world. 

This reliance on fossil fuels leads to a large carbon footprint that needs to be reduced to combat climate change. In addition, the manufacture of sportswear is also highly emissions-intensive. 

That doesn't even account for the emissions from fans who attend events, buy sports merchandise, or drive to games to catch their favorite players in action.

Despite a few professional athletes committed to social changes making waves, the vast majority of those within the industry have been largely silent on the issue. 

That includes team owners, commissioners, and sponsors. The reluctance to address climate change may be due in part to a lack of awareness about the risks or simply because it is seen as too difficult a problem to solve.

In this article, we identify four aspects of the sports industry—travel, manufacturing, and stadiums—and explore how climate change is impacting each of them. We also offer solutions on what the industry can do to reduce its emissions.


Sports events are often held in different locations around the world, and this reliance on air travel is a major contributor to the industry's carbon footprint.

For the sports industry to make a significant dent in emissions, it needs to find more sustainable ways to transport people and equipment. 

Of course, success in this area is complicated by the fact that transport networks are controlled by other authorities. Learning to work together with local stakeholders will be key to reducing emissions from travel.

Organizers for traveling sports events like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) can also push for host countries and cities to upgrade their transport infrastructure so that athletes and fans can travel around more efficiently. 

They can also work with local stakeholders to make sure that events are held as close to each other as possible.

While using land- or sea-based travel instead of flying would be the most environmentally friendly option, it's not always feasible or practical, especially for sports with packed schedules and highly-paid athletes.

Reducing the number of miles traveled for staff and equipment is a good place to start. Video conferencing and online meetings can help to reduce the need for travel, as can consolidating shipments and using more efficient transportation methods.


The sports industry is a major consumer of resources, and the manufacture of sportswear is highly emissions-intensive.

To reduce its carbon footprint, the industry needs to shift towards more sustainable materials and production methods. This will require close collaboration between brands, suppliers, and consumers.

Brands can work with suppliers to develop new production methods and materials that are more environmentally friendly. They can also promote the use of recycled materials in their products, as well as provide easier ways to recycle clothing and footwear.

Consumers, for their part, can vote with their wallets by choosing brands that prioritize sustainability. There is already a growing demand for sustainable sports apparel, and as the industry shifts towards more sustainable practices, this demand will only continue to grow.


Sports stadiums are some of the biggest energy users in the world, and their emissions profile is often skewed towards high-emitting sources like natural gas.

To reduce its emissions, the sports industry needs to shift towards renewable energy sources for stadiums and other facilities. 

Sports organizations have to work with stadium operators, energy providers, and local governments to develop long-term plans for renewable energy.

Green stadiums must be designed and built with renewable energy in mind. This means using materials that are easy to recycle and reuse, as well as incorporating features like solar panels and wind turbines into the design.

Operators of sports stadiums can also work towards becoming more energy efficient. They can install LED lighting, upgrade heating and cooling systems, and use smart technology to optimize energy usage.

Governments can help by developing policies that incentivize the use of renewable energy. For example, they can offer tax breaks or subsidies for businesses and organizations that install renewable energy systems.

Renewable energy is becoming increasingly affordable, and with the right incentives, sports stadiums can have net-zero emissions by 2050.


From the massive stadiums and transport networks required to host major events to the emissions-intensive manufacture of sportswear, the sports industry has a large carbon footprint. But there are ways to reduce that footprint. 

Collaboration between stakeholders is essential, whether it's working with local governments on renewable energy initiatives, developing more sustainable materials and production methods, or encouraging fans to choose environmentally-friendly brands.

There is no single solution that will solve the climate challenges faced by the sports industry. But with a little creativity and cooperation, we can make progress towards a more sustainable future.


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