Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why football is bad for our Rochester, NY environment


Last Sunday evening, in Rochester, NY and around the country, lots of folks were glued to their media attending to a popular pastime, football. I mean a lot of folks. What if all those people with all that money put football and other expensive sports on the back-burner and focused their incredible intelligence and energy on solving our desperate environmental issues? Rochester, NY has a litany of environmental issues that need to be address as Climate Change changes our area, but the public is out for half-time, absorbed in super-bowls and endless replays of things that don’t matter.

I’m not against sports; I even played a lot of high school football—badly, I might add. Though a bit violent for a body that hasn’t finished growing, sports for kids does build character, a sense of responsibility, good health, physical and mental skills that are good for a lifetime. And though I don’t ‘get’ professional sports (most players don’t even live, or ever have lived, in the community they are playing for,) I’m not against it.

What I question is the scale and the incredible amount of time and mental energy consumed by such a large proportion of our population on something that essentially doesn’t matter. Who wins the super bowl doesn’t feed the hungry, cure cancer, or save our environment. It’s just a game and like candy for kids, it’s probably OK within limits.

But billions of dollars for corporations, including a culture of where our best and our brightest don’t get off the bench to take responsibility for our environment, is not OK. By the time we’ve spent countless hours in front of countless games drinking countless beers and storing countless facts about a game that doesn’t matter, saving our environment may be too late. We are already going to experience many alterations in our Rochester, NY environment because Climate Change wasn’t addressed on a large scale earlier.

There’s a lot going on and much to acquaint yourself with in these extraordinary times. Climate Change is warming the planet and it will diminish the availability of food and fresh water. We need to know where candidates stand on environmental issues. We need the public to get informed about these issues so they can shop and choose careers for a sustainable planet. How can that happen if the attention of the majority of the population is absorbed on a game and not on our environment? Instead of informing themselves on the vast complexities and enormities of our environmental issues, our citizens’ free time is consumed in sports mania. Sports corporations have taken over our minds—taken our eyes off the real ball (Earth).

Our species’ ultimate goal, I suggest, was not to watch endless football games or any kind of games for that matter. Over the last 200,000 years, where we pretty much got to where we are in terms of evolution, we’ve been busy combating our environment like superhero football players—just to stay alive. Your ancestors, by definition, survived in a very hostile environment and made it so you could be here. They weren’t buying T-shirts and sweat-shirts with corporate logos to get a sense of direction in life or self-worth. They were doing what humans do best: adapt and survive.

If, while we’re busy watching sports, we pass some of the possible environmental tipping points-- on biodiversity, Climate Change, or ocean acidification-- there won’t be a gridiron, a football, or very high-paid players to play with either of them.

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