Olympic devastation that could be local fun instead

July 23, 2021 by Joshua
in Fitness

I love sports and believe they bring people together. They can help bridge cultural divides. Having played ultimate in North Korea, I’ve seen it in action. Here’s Jordan Harbinger with a kid throwing a Frisbee we brought to the first International tournament in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Sports also help us find our potentials and reach them. They help keep us healthy by promoting fitness.

I read that the Olympics involves over 10,000 athletes, many flying from all over the world. I couldn’t find how many support staff and fans fly in and from how far. They look like they fill stadiums. Plus all the construction and planning before the games start.

I think it’s fair to estimate at least 100,000 people flying per Olympic games, averaging over a transatlantic distance. Let’s look at an online calculator:

100,000 people averaging 3.6 tons of CO2 each approaches half a million tons of CO2 on flights to and from the games alone. There’s plenty more pollution coming from the planes and many other aspects of the event.

Could we get the benefit without polluting?

As much as I appreciate athletes reaching the limits of human potential and us learning from them, I value clean air, land, and water. It seems to me obvious that we can get the benefits of sport without the pollution.

A proposal

Acting on my environmental values has taught me through experience that it’s not what you avoid. It’s what you replace it with. Instead of flying, what could we do locally?

We could play sports ourselves.

Instead of sitting on couches, watching others play while we order takeout and don’t exercise, what if we used that time to play sports ourselves? We have the potential to derive more meaning and purpose from life by actively participating more than passively watching.

Imagine hundreds of millions of people exercising and playing instead of sitting and watching, saving half a million tons of CO2. Yes, we wouldn’t see Usain Bolt levels of perfection, but we’d lose our breath ourselves. We’d learn resilience, persistence, winning and losing gracefully, balance, teamwork, strength, coordination, breathing, and all the things we learn from sports and physical activity.

We’d learn to compete and reach our physical potential. I’d like to live in that world.

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