Global Warming and Football

Environment America is raising serious and important questions about the elephant in the room – the impact of global warming no one wants to talk about:

National trends from recent seasons suggest that a home field advantage for cold weather teams over their warm weather rivals may truly exist.  Environment America pointed to the National Football League’s 14 cold weather teams having won 65 percent of their home games played after Halloween against warm weather teams from 1998 through 2005.

Unfortunately for the fans of these cold weather teams, winter temperatures are on the rise in cold weather teams’ cities across the country, potentially threatening the home field advantage that these teams have historically enjoyed.  Specifically, Environment America compared the average temperatures in 14 cold weather teams’ cities for the last seven football seasons to the average temperatures measured in those cities from 1971-2000.  In just the last seven years, the cities’ average temperatures from November through January have risen significantly.

Have you heard anyone ask the presidential candidates about this? No. Is it, perhaps, because the television networks broadcasting the presidential debates have a vested interest in the lucrative football franchise? Why is no one talking about this?

But the problem is far more serious than even Environment America is willing to admit. Given the global warming already in the pipeline, even if we rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, football as we know it may be doomed. Like much of the global warming debate, I fear that Environment America is afraid to tackle the serious question of adaptation. Football teams in our northern climes must adapt to the inevitable. This is not an argument for sidestepping the hard challenge of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. American football (the kind with the pointy ball that bounces funny) is far too important for that. But we must recognize that no matter how much we reduce our Sunday driving to the in-laws’ house to watch the big game, adaptation will be critical if American football as we know it is to survive.

I recommend a Manhattan Project-style effort to develop giant air conditioning units. The model is already there among those facing the difficult challenge of playing baseball in the summer in the desert southwest. But this challenge is far greater. These air conditioning units need to be really, really big.

We must act now, before it is too late.

(HT Environmental Capital)


  1. The loss of Arctic tundra is bad enough … but to lose the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field is a true environmental disaster.

  2. So, teams in southern states now stand a better chance in football? This explains why LSU beat Ohio State (and I am almost impressed with myself for knowing that). But, generally I’m opposed to things that help the Dallas Cowboys, so this is indeed terrifying news

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