Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2022/ Sports Transportation

Sports Transportation

When I arrived at the park today there was a baseball game in progress. The parking lot was full of minivans and pickup trucks. When the baseball game ended all of the families got into their vehicles and went home.

If you are an anti-car bigot like I am, this poses a conundrum. The baseball games justify those minivans and pickup trucks. Between the players and their families, most seats in most of those vehicles were full, so the opportunities to carpool would have been limited. Presumably one team was the home team and another was the visiting team, so the visitors probably had to trek some distance to get to the sports field. Does this make personal vehicle ownership (and the attendant roads, and the attendant parking lots) okay? Or is recreational baseball the problem, and should we be curbing children's sports?

The Not Just Bikes guy says that in his adopted country of the Netherlands children bike to their (European) football and field hockey games. That might happen here for some games (particularly for home teams) but I question whether it is a realistic expectation.

I am not much of a sports fan, but I do feel that recreation and exercise are important, and I understand that some people really benefit from team sports. But I have a difficult time using that to rationalize the suburban car-centric lifestyle many of these participants engage in.

Is there a mass-transit solution to this problem? For professional teams the answer is a clear yes: they charter buses to transport players from game to game. But they do not transport parents or other spectators. It is conceivable that players and their families take public transit to games, but this gets expensive if three or four people are attending the game.

One issue is baggage. Some sports require lugging large duffel bags around. Can the children playing these sports be expected to lug such bags, or are we expecting parents to do the lugging for them? If it is the latter then we are back to minivans and pickup trucks.

Strictly recreational games (eg pick-up baseball) does not run into this problem as much, but there is a qualitative difference between pick-up games and organized sports leagues.

I strongly feel that participation in sports should not justify car culture, since car culture is quite harmful to physical health. But if we encourage competitive sport then it seems we have no sustainable, effective transportation to the practices and games.