How long can sport, like Hollywood, continue to wave away the contradictions between its activities and its supposed ideals?
Someone once told me about a film actor who had developed a powerful ecological conscience, and in this spirit he bought every cast and crew member on his latest production a reusable coffee cup. As the shoot wore on, he’d make spot checks to see if they were using them. This was a source of some irritation but more amusement to the crew, who’d observe darkly to each other that – with the best will in the world on the old coffee cup front – they were literally MAKING A MOVIE HERE. There are few more disposably indulgent, bigger footprint projects than creating a second-tier romantic comedy (unless it’s maybe failing to be able to tell the Spiderman story in less than two and three quarter hours).
It’s hard not to think about such ironies as far as sport and climate change go, and it will be even harder as the Australian Open gets under way this week. Already, the current stop on the sport’s globetrotting tour has seen bushfire smoke cause qualifying games to be delayed and a player to withdraw. Meanwhile, Roger Federer has become the subject of gathering criticism from climate activists including Greta Thunberg for taking sponsorship from Credit Suisse, which is heavily linked to the fossil-fuel industry.