Depends on what you mean by “hurting”. All spectator sports involve significant travel, not just for the players but more importantly for the tens of thousands of fans who go to see them; that travel burns oil. Or who turn on their TVs, buy beer hot dogs and chips, create waste, and do all the hundreds of things that all humans do all the time that contribute to environmental problems by using electricity (burning coal), manufacturing everything from wrapping paper to giant foam fingers, and much much more.
But the same is true of almost all human activities, to some degree.
Just as rigibson describes, all major spectator events have an environmental impact, especially due to the travel involved for the myriads of people to get to the event destination. However, in terms of the sports themselves, the most environmentally destructive of all spectator sports would be car racing. Still, some speedy electric cars that are being produced, can make for a formidable opponent against many gas-fuelled cars. The energy expended in order to keep a hockey rink frozen should also be considered. Please see the link for more information.
Yeah, in every big spectator sport there is going to be a lot of travel, waste, and a big carbon footprint, but I think Nascar is really the only sport that can be considered especially harmful to the environment. The cars drive hundreds of miles in a circle with their powerful engines commonly getting a shocking 5 mpg, and unlike all commercial vehicles, are not regulated by the EPA. It is estimated that at a typical NASCAR event (40 cars racing about 500 miles), roughly 6,000 gallons of gasoline are consumed, with an estimated 120,000 lbs. of CO2 emissions estimated…and that’s just for one race weekend.
Not disagreeing with you at all, but to add perspective to the 6,000 gallons consumed at a NASCAR event, all driving in the US consumes 9,000,000 barrels of gasoline – 378,000,000 gallons – every single day of the year.
All sports take up lots of land as well. That land might have been for urban construction anyways, but some facilities like indoor tennis courts require air conditioning and lots of lights for night-time play. Indoor ice rinks require lots of energy to maintain low temperatures. All outdoor courts require land while indoor courts require energy as well.
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