While the existence of global warming has been debated on this blog in countless stories, Sports Illustrated doesn’t even go there. It starts off with the basic assumption that global warming is happening and goes directly to the how it impacts the sports world. Without any help from Al Gore, it presents some pretty interesting perspectives on how the current climate crisis is impacting the games we play and watch.
I won’t give everything away from the magazine, but here were some interesting tidbits to chew on that might build your appetite to read the full package.
• Remember Willie Mays’ circus catch in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. He made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch in New York’s Polo Grounds that’s been replayed countless times as one of the game’s all-time greatest defensive plays. The day of that game, the temperature in New York was 76 degrees. With one more degree of air temperature (and government statistics on weather show that our climate has picked up 1.17 degrees since 1954), the ball Mays was chasing after would have flown two inches farther and would have likely not been caught by Mays. Warmer air is less dense allowing balls to travel further. Could that be a contributing factor to the increased number of home runs we’re seeing in baseball? Does that warmer, thinner air help golfers drive the ball to the record lengths we’re seeing today?
• People in the international skiing community aren’t poo-pooing the impacts of global warming. A record eight World Cup ski races in Europe were canceled this year due to lack of snow and warm temperatures. Several other major races were salvaged by spending $100,000s to truck in snow and beef up the ski runs. Temperature increases in the Alps are going up three times faster than the global average. And worldwide, some ski resorts are wrapping their glaciers in huge sheets of tin foil over the summer months to keep the sun’s rays from getting to the ice and melting them faster.
• Florida sports teams might want to start considering becoming swim teams instead of baseball, football, basketball or hockey squads. A rise of sea levels by one meter, which some climatologists are projecting could happened by 2100, would submerge eight stadiums and arenas in Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville that currently host big-time pro and college sporting events.
• Ash trees, which are the prime wood used to make major league bats, are now under increased stress due to the ash borer beetle. The bug thrives in warmer weather and has made a rapid sweep through the Midwest and eastern portions of the U.S. The situation is scary enough that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is collecting DNA samples of ash trees to be preserved should the ashes get wiped out by the beetles.
What do you think about global warming and the sports world? Share your thoughts here at Science Buzz.