Sport needs to be emphasised

January 08, 2018

Sport enhances Goulburn Valley communities.

Historically, sport was the glue that held communities together, just as it does today.

This newspaper, as do most others, devotes many pages to its coverage of local sport, illustrating that a good local newspaper is a little like a community talking to itself.

Local sport is in the eyes of many the undervalued cousin of state, national and international counterparts, although it is from the courts, courses, ovals, tracks, fields and the many other local sporting venues that the state, national and international sports teams harvest those who may or may not become recognised stars.

There is a perceived and understood path for those local champions to the sophisticated and even glamorous facilities where state, national and world championships are decided.

A distance runner, for argument’s sake, who styles their craft on Strathmerton’s back roads might someday find themselves running for state or national championships, and later a world title and then, maybe, win a medal in the Olympic Games.

That is the stuff of which dreams are made and that is the stuff that gives local sport its ‘‘reason’’, its purpose its sense of hope, and its social legitimacy.

However, there is something else that makes local sport not just important, but critical and is something that will soon elevate that criticality to beyond the celebratory level presently enjoyed by state, national and international cousins.

Those advanced levels of sport depend for their success, in attendance of spectators and the involvement of participants, upon extensive travel; travel that will be impossible considering promises made in December 2015 in Paris by most of the world’s countries to limit carbon dioxide emissions.

So although what presently happens at Shepparton’s sports venues might seem insignificant compared (they are not) to the sporting heroics further afield, soon, because of enforced restrictions on travel, local sport will be the place where sporting ambitions reach their pinnacle.

Australia’s population is comparatively tiny representing just 0.3 per cent of the global total and yet it contributes nearly three per cent of global aviation emissions, and yet flight is rudimentary to sport at those top levels.

Many Australians were rightly delighted when Australia qualified for this year’s soccer World Cup in Russia, but appeared oblivious and unconcerned that the national team had flown some 250000km travelling to more than 20 countries to qualify; something only possible in an energy-rich society, but impossible in an energy-scarce world.

That scarcity will not arise from a shortage of the fossil fuels upon which planes depend, rather from air travel limitations the world must embrace if we are to stand any hope of meeting those Paris promises made just a couple of years ago.

The Australian Football League’s national success is inextricably linked to air travel with teams, their staff and supporters flying all over the country every week during the season.

Other sports, individual and team, are also tied fundamentally to national and international air travel.

Action on climate change is about more than just protecting the environment.

It is crucial to protect our health, economy, jobs, culture and way of life, and that means emphasising sport here in Shepparton.

Rob McLean is a former News editor.

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