Harnessing sporting energy

Kelman, Ilan | April 20, 2012 | Leave a Comment


By Ilan Kelman

People’s dedication to bizarre sporting customs is a rich yet relatively untapped source of wealth that could be devoted to sustainability.

Currently, fans are preparing for testosterone-fuelled Formula 1 cars to be raced around in a regime that killed pro-democracy demonstrators. Meanwhile, civil liberties continue to be curtailed in a London preparing for the Olympics.

Millions of television hours and millions of Euros will be spent. From one view, we gain the best that humanity can produce by pushing our bodies to the limits (with or without drugs) and by witnessing the poetry of machine and man (usually men) joint as one competitive entity. Others say that it is all just a huge waste of resources.

Irrespective of one’s attraction towards or antipathy against sports, we must admire the dedication of so many to these rituals. Imagine if that were devoted to sustainability.

Could everyone following the Olympics sacrifice thirty minutes of their television time to pick up litter around their community? Could car races be shortened by one lap, to donate to charity the money saved on fuel? For just one event, could the sponsors’ logos on uniforms and vehicles be replaced with the websites of environmental organisations?

All these, both the sports and the environmental substitutes, speak to the lite of the world, those with the education and time to be reading this blog. Yet we are the ones contributing most to our sustainability problems. We are the ones who need to solve them. With multinational corporate entities reaping most of the profits from sports, spending our time and money on these circuses does little to contribute to sustainability.

Yes, there is beauty in athleticism. Yes, we need sports as part of health and fitness. Yes, international events bring the world together. Yes, competition teaches us the edge required to tackle environmental problems.

But at what cost?

How could the energy, dedication, commitment, money, and technical and social expertise devoted to winning meaningless events be harnessed to apply to the real game of humanity competing against itself trying to win its survival on one planet?

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