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Community sports fields and atmospheric climate impacts

The purpose of this study was to understand atmospheric climate impacts on community-level sports clubs’ (CLSC) in temperate climate zones of Australia and Canada, the degree to which CLSC’s in these countries are vulnerable and/or resilient to such impacts, and any organizational responses. CLSCs in many parts of the world, offer opportunities for outdoor sport with participants and grass turf playing fields that are climate-exposed. In both Australia and Canada in particular, the inherent exposure of CLSCs and their facilities to extremes of atmospheric climate is potentially problematic. This comparative study therefore investigated climate impacts and responses in the Niagara region of Ontario province, and Victoria, a state in the south-east of Australia. Based on interview, document and observational data from 23 organizations (11 in Ontario, and 12 in Victoria), the researchers present three key findings. First, significant damage to playing fields resulting from climatic extremes, particularly in Victoria, but also in Ontario. These impacts included sudden/fast-onset climate impacts (storms, floods), but also gradual/slow-onset climate impacts (droughts, extreme temperatures). Second, flowing from the climatic extremes, secondary and indirect impacts were evident (e.g. compaction of playing fields, interrupted and/or cancelled competitions, higher injury risks, insurance risks, and higher operating & capital costs). Third, three forms of organizational adaptation were evident: modified water management, adaptation of grass turf management using drought-tolerant or synthetic grasses, and revised operational policies. The results demonstrate that CLSCs in both Ontario and Victoria have varying degrees of vulnerability to climate impacts, and challenge assumptions of a benign sport-climate relationship at the community-level. Despite this, considerable scope exists in both nations to adapt sport management practices to create climate-resilient sport.

CITE: Dingle, G. W. & Mallen, C. (2020). Community sports fields and atmospheric climate impacts: Australian and Canadian perspectives, Managing Sport & Leisure. 25(6).


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