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Environmental Consciousness in Sports; The Role Of The Media

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“What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans. If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live. We won’t have a society if we destroy the environment,”- Albert Einstein

Sports is a wonderful physical activities that provides freedom from stress and worries. It has nice scope and professional career for athletes. It has ability to give sportspersons and nations their required name, fame and money. So, we can say that, sports can be played for personal benefits as well as professional benefits. In both ways, it benefits our body, mind and soul. Some people play it daily for their body, mind fitness, enjoyment etc. However some engage in it to get valuable status in their life. No one can ignore its values in the personal and professional life. Sport for many is, an entertaining experience bringing billions of people together. At stadiums, events, bars, and other venues to watch athletes, from children to highly talented professionals, play the sports they love. Yet, this fun comes with consequences that go beyond the game as those individual actions are multiplied by millions and millions of people each year all around the world.

Since time immemorial, people have entertained themselves with sports. Sports activities are symbolic of health, with the best matches being played by athletes in peak physical form. But ironically, even as sports promote health, they can also degrade the environment upon which good health depends. Whether played or watched, athletic endeavours have the potential to produce huge environmental footprint in terms of their use and abuse of natural resources. Human impact on environment in several ways, some common effects include Water quality, Environmental pollution and Greenhouse Gas emissions, Depletion of natural resources and contribution to climate change. Some of these are the direct result of human activities, whereas others are secondary effects that are part of a series of actions and reactions.

Though technology is making lives of humans easier and comfortable, it poses a great threat to the environment. The threat may be due to Pollution, Radiation Hazards, Exploitation of natural resources etc. Greenhouse gases and aerosols affect climate by altering incoming solar radiation and out-going thermal radiation that are part of Earth’s energy balance. Changing the atmospheric abundance or properties of these gases and particles can lead to a warming or cooling of the climate system.

As a sports journalist, not only will I accept the good fortunes of sports but also access its effect on the environment. This article sheds light on the problematic, but urgent relation between sport and its environmental effects by focusing on the awareness creation for a sustainable environmental development.

It is worth to note that a mammoth amount of garbage is created at sporting events ranging from solid rubbish, liquid waste, recyclable and organic waste. Meanwhile resources like water and energy are used by the athletes to power the games and to keep playing fields sumptuous and conditioned for sporting events. Carbon emanations from travel to and from events by all stakeholders also factor into the calculation of consequences to the environment that is dependent of successful sporting activities.

Two related standpoints exist in relation to sport and the environment. The first is the Inside-Out perspective where organizational personnel understand how their activities impact the environment. The second is the Outside-In where external environmental and related issues such as government regulations impact the operations of an organization.

In sport, most of the conceptualizations, research, and knowledge of these issues involve the Inside-Out perspective. Energy consumed by national and international sport events will continue to increase as sporting leagues grow around the world including Ghana. During the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London for instant, 10,500 athletes participated in the Games and 500,000 people travelled to attend them. 70,000 people visited New Orleans to attend the Super Bowl in person, but many more visited the city for the events surrounding the Super Bowl, but did not have tickets to attend the game. It was estimated that each match at the 2006 World Cup used 3 million kilowatt hours of energy and produced five to ten tons of trash.

It is not just the national and international events that create massive environmental problems. While the large events gather attention, numerous lower-tier sport events and recreational activities contribute to our environmental problems.

At the central zone inter schools sports festival game recently held at the Ho sports stadium, it was visibly clear that about One to Two tons of trash was generated and up to three times that much throughout the week program. The John Agyekum Kuffour Foundation Cup game between Asante Kotoko and Obuasi Ashanti Gold at the Baba Yara sports stadium earlier in the year was another testimony to how the actions of patrons of sports litter the environment with rubbish. Hundreds of fans that thrust out of the gates at the final whistle can be seen littering with several solid wastes consisting of plastic bags, containers, jars, bottles, tins, and other products. The phenomenon is quite the same in all other stadia during match days in the country. It is however sad that not only do they endanger the stadium environs but outside the facility suffers same treatment.

The practice where environmental cleanliness should be adhered to by patrons at the stadium is one of the trademarks of the National Sports Authority’s Volta Regional Director, Mr Kwame Amponfi Jnr. He sees littering as an irresponsible life and must be eschewed from fans.

“Yes, if we all agree that the entire Volta region (Ho) is a clean place then we cannot allow the sports stadium and its environs to be an exception. This is the regional facility and that cleanliness must reflect when people visit here. Patrons who use the facility must be conscious about its sereneness and keep it clean. This education I’ve done over and over again and it’s achieving results. Littering is an environmental hazard and must be stopped,” he said.

The provision of new Sports facilities affects the environment in a variety of different ways too. When describing and assessing them, a peculiarity can be made between indoor and outdoor facilities. Compared to sports halls, outdoor facilities require much more space. How this space is treated is of considerable significance to the environment. On the one hand, the wrong choice of location, improper care and unnecessary soil sealing can cause the loss of valuable habitats and affect the soil and the water balance. On the other hand, if environmental criteria are taken into account during the planning, building and maintenance of an outdoor sports facility, especially in capitals, this can upgrade the area ecologically and thus increase the attractiveness of the residential environment.

In the effort to satisfy human needs of sporting infrastructure development, several natural resources have been sacrifice. The Ho Youth Resource Center currently under construction is located in a swampy area on the Ho-Adaklu road. Just close to the facility is a small Dam that serves as a drinking spot for nomadic headsmen and their animals, a source of fishing and abode to a crocodile. With the quest for this project, the natural resource has been destroyed for the sports facility accomplishment.

Abdulai Sani, 22, a nomadic headsman who lives around Adaklu Abuadi says he felt very disappointed the area was cleared for a stadium depriving his cattle’s a source of abundant drinking water.

“Am not happy because this is where we come to drink water. Now we have to take the cows to powerhouse to feed and drink water. I don’t know why the Dam was scattered for a stadium. Nobody cares about the importance of it but football. The distance to power house is far and we are not happy,” he said.

There are many chemicals used during the construction process of sports facilities, many of which can be quite harmful to both the contract workers and the surrounding environment if not handled properly. Therefore, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that design install, implement and maintain effective pollution prevention measures throughout the course of a development, to ensure pollutants are discharged correctly and safely with limited impact on the environment. The rules maintain that one must ensure to minimize the discharge of pollutants from any equipment they use on site, this includes site vehicles, wheel wash water, and associated chemicals. The rule also says that one should limit the exposure of building materials, products, and construction wastes and any other related materials to rain water. The EPA rules stipulate, however, that this requirement is unnecessary in cases where there isn’t a risk of pollutants infecting surrounding waters or the atmosphere surrounding the construction site. It is however important the media play a watchdog role to curb the reckless exposure into the ozone layer by these contractors and also protect the law that regulates their activities.

Golf Parks, Polo grounds and some other sporting disciplines requires green grass terrains. These sports consume large areas of land, require constant resource inputs, and use pesticides to control insect populations and keep the vegetation at a very appreciable standard. Pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals are also used to nurture and treat the grass very often. Because pesticides are sprayed over large portion of land, they have a widespread impact on the environment. Research has shown, for example, that over 95% of herbicides and over 98% of insecticides do not reach the targeted pest. This is because pesticides are applied over large tracts of land and carried away by wind and water runoff. As these chemicals travel to other areas, they affect a number of plant and animal species. Additionally, storage, transportation, and production allow some quantities of pesticides to be introduced to the environment.

Plants, birds, fish, reptiles, and humans have all been affected by this unnoticed practice. It appears that this man-made chemical was invented with the intention of improving and increasing crop yields, provide human satisfaction and to ensure continued health of the human population. Unfortunately, its use has come with unintended and fatal consequences on sporting grounds. The media around the world need to act in order to awaken the consciousness control pesticide application and prevent some of its harmful and increasingly common side effects on the society.

But in all honesty, the scale and gravity of impact sports has on the environment largely depends mainly on the kind of sports and the size of the event. Few environmental impacts are common to all sports. Ghana isn’t that expose to mostly air pollution as compared to the western world because we don’t practice common sports. Motorsports like Formula One and MotorGp aren’t practice here hence its effect not readily visible.

Regardless, the media must play a vital role in dropping the litter of environmental degradation.  The media is very important in shaping public awareness about global climate change and its associated environmental actions. When we discuss the role of media, we focus on three key areas; to inform, to educate and to entertain.

Traditionally, there have been the tools like Radio, Television and Newspapers which has been playing an important role for spreading awareness among the people for climate change and environment protection at the faster rate than the personal contacts.

Further, they have been enriched by the production and distribution of printed materials such as books magazines and brochure which has helped in transfer of new and current awareness whereas radio and television remained important tool for quick information. The current use of social media awareness creation I believe is the way forward just as Ghana Journalist Association (GJA)- Volta is doing. With most sports industry players relying on social media(Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc.) as a contact tool with their fans and followers, I believe the same medium when given priority by the media can channel the information to reaching them.

Massive constant campaign on the actions of sports on the environment will sharpen the attitude of the industry players towards the effects on the environment. I recommend a collaboration mechanism between media personnel, sports and environmental stakeholder’s to ensure frequent and quality content production on environmental issues. All these, if effected will lead to an increase in the level of awareness among Ghanaians and ultimately save the environment from degradation.

As sports depends on the environment, let’s try as sports patrons to preserve it, keep it clean, change our attitudes towards littering to maintain sports sustainability in Ghana.

By: Eric Eli Adzie, GBC Volta Star

Twitter: @Adjivic


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