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Sport and social media: Perfect partners for an imperfect climate


Sport and social media: Perfect partners for an imperfect climate

The playing of sport is inherently affected by climate change. However, when combined with online communication, sport can also be an important part of the solution, as explained by Leszek J. Sibilski from Connect4Climate.

From the melting snow of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics to the stifling heat of the Australian Open Tennis Championships in Melbourne, climate change is proving relentless. According to the World Bank, Earth could warm from its current global mean temperature of 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels to as high as 4°C by 2100.

So are we going to sit back and let it ravage our lives and love of sport? As a former member of the Polish National Olympic Team in cycling, I definitely hope not. Let’s unite the power of sport with the might of social media and face up to the world’s environmental enemy number one.

Sport is not an obvious choice for addressing climate change. But, whichever way you look at it, sport is huge. It captivates billions, employs millions and is worth as much as 700 billion euros, making it one of the world’s biggest industries.

Sport can shape the way people think about the environment – so has a vital role to play in delivering a powerful eco message. It keeps humans healthy and keeps the planet healthy too.

The universal power of sport is not only its popularity but also the celebrity status of its stars. High profile athletes make great ambassadors and role models. They can promote the effects of climate change, inspire people to change their lifestyles and help educate young people. Supporting sports initiatives with posts and tweets offers us a tremendous opportunity to get our message across.

As a father of two young athletes, I want the global sport community to understand and talk about the consequences of climate change. And one way of doing that is through social media.

The metrics of social media usage are mindboggling. At the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, there were 3 billion Facebook posts, comments and likes during the tournament, and over 32 million tweets during the final match.

If you roll in ticket sales of 3 million and a global television audience of around 3.6 billion, you’ll see there’s more people interacting with the tournament than the world’s population!

The incredible social media explosion in Brazil had its roots two years earlier at the Olympic Games. At London 2012, digital coverage exceeded traditional broadcast coverage for the first time. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ attracted 4.7 million followers, and there were 150 million tweets during the course of the Games.

Social media is all about connecting. Sport is all about connecting. We at Connect4Climate are all about connecting. The challenge is to get social media and sport working hand-in-hand to face up to climate change.

We also need to evolve. In an environment of relentless climate change and limited resources, it’s vital we take advantage of new digital and networking opportunities to start making a difference. Our reward? A healthier planet for our children, their children and all future generations.

[This is an edited version of a longer article.]



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Leszek Sibilski


Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 23:00