The English soccer season began Saturday, and thanks to NBC Sports, Americans can now add to the millions of people who watch Barclays Premier League matches each week. Combine that with the menu of viewing options already available to Americans — baseball is nearing the postseason, the NFL and college football begin soon, and basketball will be back in mere months — and we’ll be watching a lot of sports television in the fall.
There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but sports have a tremendous impact on our environment. The vast majority of that impact comes from fans attending games: a single match in England last year had a carbon footprint of 5,160 tons, with most of it coming from fan travel, according to a new study from environmental advocacy group Carbon Trust. Sports leagues, including England’s Football Association, the NFL, the NBA, and Major League Baseball, have been trying to reduce the environmental impact of their stadiums and games in recent years, but fans who don’t attend events can help by choosing cleaner ways to consume sports remotely, Carbon Trust found:
As those graphics show, watching on television is maybe the most environmentally-friendly way to consume sports, which is good news, since tens of millions of people do it worldwide each week. The better news is that we can make watching on TV even more environmentally-friendly by teaming up to watch with friends. And if sports fans really want to make games a cleaner experience, they can join their friends to watch at a bar with dozens of other people. That’s something they should care about, since climate change is wreaking havoc on sports, from surfing to football and everything else.
Drinking too much beer, eating gobs of food, or driving separately would offset some of the positive effects of watching at a bar, so the environmentally-conscious may want to take public transit or find a neighborhood watering hole and avoid getting too sloshed during the game. Even if you’re not the type that considers your impact on the environment in daily decisions, though, this may give us all a new excuse to join our friends at the bar for the big game — as if we needed another one.