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Toxic Sports
by "The Green Ranter" , Reporting for The United States Media Corps.
Should there be environmental impact fees for some sports?

Should there be environmental impact fees for producers, players & fans of sports that have adverse affects on the environment? (I'm looking at you golf & NASCAR).

Most historians agree with The Roman poet Juvenal (circa 100 A.D.) that the mighty Roman Empire collapsed from within due to a pleasure-driven, sports-obsessed society that willingly surrendered the principles of self-government to an insatiable central government that, through perpetual wars and ongoing handouts from the public treasury, destroyed a great republic. This society seems alive & well in America, especially when one examines the American obsession/distraction with sports. While I could dedicate the space of a book to how absurd and pointless I think this obsession is and still never sway public opinion on the matter, what I can do in a brief article is cover the adverse affects certain sports have on the environment. Then, perhaps producers, players and fans can decide whether or not these sports are important enough for them to own up to the environmental damage their sports cause.

As for this writer, I don't understand what's so interesting about watching cars go around in a circle or grown men chasing a little ball all over a giant, overly manicured lawn. However, I know humans are a weird bunch who often emotionally debate why these activities are worthwhile & my chances for convincing them that their time might be better spent protecting our republic from decay are slim. While I may not be able to briefly present the decadent affect the sporting culture has on the republic, I can briefly cover how certain sports, namely Golf & NASCAR, are measurably, adversely affecting everyone's shared, irreplaceable natural resource base. Shouldn't those who profit from/enjoy such unnecessary activities as golf & auto racing have to share in cleaning up the toxic byproducts of their pastimes?
Let's survey the damage. Golf contributes several problems to the ecosystems its playing areas cover. Golf courses are among the most highly concentrated per acre users of pesticides. The extensive use of pesticides on golf courses raises concerns about toxic exposure as these chemicals drift over neighboring communities, contaminate water, wildlife and sensitive ecosystems.

Golf courses also make vast areas of bio-diversified ecosystem into large tracts of non-native monoculture. Pesticides are just one group of artificial agents required to maintain the playing surfaces prized by today's golfers (chemical fertilizers are another).

continued top of next column..

    Then there's the water use issue: The UN estimates that golf courses use 2.5 billion gallons of clean water daily (enough to provide drinking water for 4.7 billion people). That's just a thumbnail sketch of the larger problems many environmentalists attribute to the sport. Is golf really even a sport? Isn't more like a giant arcade game? Whatever... I know people are going to enjoy what they enjoy, I'd just prefer if they took responsibility when what they enjoy adversely affects the irreplaceable, necessary ingredients of biological existence.
   Then there's America's second favorite spectator sport (just behind football): NASCAR. NASCAR's non-EPA -regulated engines make it among the least environmentally friendly sports. The U.S. government labeled NASCAR a waste of gas during the fuel shortage of the 1970s, but then seems to have promptly forgot about that after OPEC lured them into the false sense of security that derailed the first push toward sustainable fuel technologies we had in this country. Had we stayed on that path we'd likely still be the world's strongest economy. Instead we're still running the old internal combustion engine & trying to squeeze every MPG out of this 19th century technology as OPEC continues its squeeze on us.

NASCAR MPG: 5 miles per gallon is standard for a NASCAR a car. Also, the devices like catalytic converters, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has mandated on normal cars to keep emissions to a safe level, are not built into racecars. NASCAR only regulates NASCAR cars (because the fox guarding the hen house always works).

In a single typical NASCAR race weekend, with more than 40 cars at high speed for 500 miles at 5 mpg of gas, you're looking at about 6,000 gallons of fuel. Each gallon emits about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, so that's about 120,000 pounds of CO2 for a race weekend. Multiply that by about 35 races per year, and NASCAR's annual carbon footprint is in the area of 4 million pounds. The energy expended in one race could power more than three houses or drive seven cars for a whole year.
So, what about those of us who don't have, and don't want to have anything to do with these sports? Shouldn't we demand that those who make money from these sports & those that support these sports pay to cover the damages these sports inflict on our biosphere? How about building an environmental impact fee into the cost of the ticket? Wouldn't that send a message and at least give people a chance to consider whether or not their pastime is really worth its ultimate costs?

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