For any Australian sporting enthusiast, summer means cricket at the MCG, watching the world’s best tennis players at the Australian Open or simply appreciating the outdoors as you play sport yourself. But no matter what you are doing, it’s always extremely hot. What will happen to our sporting calendar as the climate continues to warm? I fear cancellation of sport events could become commonplace.
Last year, the Australian Open had to abandon play on a number of matches as temperatures soared past 40 degrees during qualifying rounds. Ticket sales have steadily reduced by thousands over the past few years as spectators opt to avoid the heat.
In February, in a first for both NSW Cricket and Rugby League, all graded games were cancelled one weekend due to dangerously hot weather.
Our bodies aren’t designed to withstand increasingly extreme heat. Health experts are concerned for a new generation of respiratory illness if temperatures continue to rise. Dr Liz Hanna said we’ll end up in a “contest of who copes best in the heat more than who is best in their sport”.
Perhaps we could be headed for a future of indoor sport or the rescheduling summer classics to winter months. But it’d be un-Australian to let our sporting events be sidelined this summer, so we need to start making some changes.
Dangerous temperature rises can be prevented if we stop burning fossil fuels and get serious about reducing emissions. Action on climate change is about more than just protecting the environment. It’s crucial to protect our health, economy, jobs, culture and way of life.
Unless we acknowledge the correlation between extreme weather and the disruption to summer sports, we run the risk of losing our wonderful sporting culture.
Romy Stephens is a Monash University science and journalism student.