Webinar series to focus on sport and the environment

A new webinar series beginning this week will examine sport and the environment in the context of the climate emergency.

Brock University’s Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC), in collaboration with University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Centre for Sport and Sustainability (CSS), is launching the multi-part webinar series with its first event Thursday, Feb. 3 at noon.

“This webinar series considers practices, politics and preferred futures related to sport and the environment,” says Brock Sport Management Associate Professor and CSC member Brad Millington. “Speakers have been invited to discuss environmental considerations in sport, ranging from the everyday practices of individuals to the climate change mitigation and adaption practices of organizations, and beyond.”

Each webinar session will provide a platform for experts to discuss issues surrounding environmental sustainability within sport and related topics such as tourism. Discussions will focus on ways in which sport might adapt to help resolve the climate crisis and what policy makers, sport organizations and others can do to help achieve this.

“The climate emergency has come starkly into focus,” Brad says. “Wildfires, flooding and extreme heat have made news headlines in recent years with alarming frequency. Against this backdrop, sport demonstrates how taken-for-granted parts of life might be disrupted as climate change progresses.”

The series, which is open to the public, emerged from conversations between Brad, his colleague and brother, Brock Kinesiology Assistant Professor Rob Millington, and UBC Kinesiology Professor and CSS Director Brian Wilson. The trio spent time discussing what’s happening in sport at present in terms of environmental sustainability and what ‘greener’ outcomes might look like in the future.

“Like Brock’s CSC, the UBC CSS brings incredible expertise and connections in the field to the partnership for this series,” Brad says. “Moreover, given the pressing nature of the climate crisis, we think it’s important to try to bring as many people as possible into the conversation on sport and sustainability. Having two excellent research centres involved in this initiative will help in circulating awareness of the webinars.”

The series is also supported by the Mobilizing Sport & Sustainability Collective, a research excellence cluster funded through the UBC Provost and Vice-President’s Office.

Each webinar has been designed to include a Q&A component, to optimize the opportunity for more in-depth discussion on each of the topics being explored.

“In terms of content, we are fortunate to have several leading experts participating as speakers and addressing a range of topics under the general heading of sport and the environment,” Rob says. “Consideration will be given to both the impacts of sport on the environment, such as emissions from sports events, and impacts of the climate crisis on sport, such as temperatures too high for competition.”

This webinar series will be of interest to a wide range of audience members, including those who are studying sport, working in the sport sector, or are just interested in sport or sustainability in general. The organizers have also taken into consideration Niagara’s role in hosting the 2022 Canada Summer Games while planning which experts will present.

“In general, sports events and especially mega-events are a key part of the conversation when it comes to sport and sustainability. For example, they can attract fans from all over the world and at times require substantial investments in infrastructure,” Brad says. “Sustainability is now often central to sports event planning. This is generally a good thing, though as the climate crisis escalates, it demands continued attention to sports event planning, among many other topics.”

Author, journalist and academic David Goldblatt will kick off the series with the inaugural webinar on Thursday, Feb. 3 at noon. He will discuss consequences of the climate crisis for sport and how the global sport industry is responding.

Goldblatt is the author of The Ball is Round a Global History of Football, The Age of Football: The Global Game in the 21st Century and Playing Against the Clock: Global Sport and the Climate Crisis. He is also a regular visiting Professor at Pitzer College in Los Angeles, Calif., and is Chair of the non-governmental organization Football For Future.

“I applaud Brad and Rob’s initiative in bringing this important topic forward and am pleased that through the CSC webinar series and with the support of our student interns, we are able to mobilize and reach a broad audience of academics, professionals and community,” says CSC Director Julie Stevens.

The webinars are free, but advance registration is required. To register, and for more information on the series, including speakers, dates and times for future events, please visit the CSC’s Upcoming Events web page.

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