Those climate change deniers who gleefully seize on any cold spell in the US as evidence that global warming is a hoax conveniently ignore the fact that there is a part of the globe called the ‘southern hemisphere’ and winter here means summer there. It turns out that Australia is currently going through a blistering heat wave with elevated risks for forest fires and heat strokes.
The temperatures in the Melbourne region have consistently been well over 40oC (104oF). The Australian Open tennis tournament is currently taking place and there have been instances of players hallucinating and collapsing on the court. Players have grown increasingly angry over what they felt was the indifference of the tournament directors to the physical well-being of the players, and I don’t blame them.
The heat was so bad that today they finally announced that the tournament has been halted until the early evening hours and the retractable roofs had been closed.
In the US, football games are often played in absurdly cold conditions, such as the playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers on January 5 2014 where the temperature was expected to be -5oF (-21oC). With the wind blowing, it was expected to feel like -50oF (-45oC). Players and spectators run the serious risk of frostbite, though some players are taking a refreshing break from foolhardy macho posturing.
Some players go sleeveless and refuse to change their playing attire no matter the conditions — Vince Lombardi famously didn’t let his players wear gloves in the Ice Bowl — but the Packers of today are open to changes.
“I don’t really subscribe to ‘the less clothes I have on, the tougher I am,’” tight end Ryan Taylor said. “The guys who think they’re the toughest guys in the world go out wearing no sleeves. It doesn’t make any sense. Being cold doesn’t make you tough. It makes you stupid.”
Sport is big business but by no means an essential activity and I see no reason to subject players to the risks of playing in such extreme conditions.