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Spurs targeted by environmental groups for 20 minute flight to Bournemouth

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You may roll your eyes, but they make a really good point.

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Tottenham Hotspur has come under fire from environmental groups over their method of travel to and from Bournemouth, where they played their last league match on Sunday, according to the Independent.

Bournemouth is only 127 miles from White Hart Lane, which makes it a relatively easy drive from London. However, the club opted instead to charter a 20 minute flight, which put it in the crosshairs of both Greenpeace and the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF). The groups called the flight "unnecessary" and argued that it was a much more carbon-intensive method of travel than taking a coach. Said James Lees, and AEF official:

"Tottenham have taken some good steps to cut carbon in the past, so it's quite surprising they've chosen the most carbon intensive mode of travel to get a location easily accessible through other means.

"Tackling climate change needs leadership, and it's about time well known football clubs such as Spurs, show a bit of it. Some big organisations are avoiding flying when they don't need to and they've found they are saving money as well as helping the planet."

Plop the trip from White Hart Lane to Vitality Stadium at Dean Court into Google Maps and you get a pretty straightforward 2 1/2 drive on what looks like major motorways. For Americans, this is the equivalent of driving from Washington DC to Philadelphia, or perhaps Chicago to Madison, Wisc.

Harry Kane, according to the Independent, said the short flight was a positive thing, at least in terms of his preparation for the match.

"We got down there early Saturday evening and had a chance to chill out, have our food, chill in the room and have a good sleep.

It is good preparation. For us, if we had got a coach I still think we would have been mentally prepared and ready to go but the club made that decision. But it helps recovery. You get back quicker, get home, get good food into you and that is important. The more the club can do to help the players recover, the better it is."

Athletes, if you ask them if they'd rather sit in a big team bus for a few hours or hop on a plane for a short "puddle-jumper" to their destination, will almost always choose the latter. And why wouldn't they? Kane's correct that shorter travel times means more match preparation, and more rested players.

But Kane also inadvertently makes the counterpoint in his own comments: for professional athletes, it shouldn't matter. Sports teams from time immemorial have driven to away games and matches, and it's tough to make the argument that the extra time sitting in a team bus listening to their iPod would have a significantly detrimental impact on their on-pitch performance.

From an environmental standpoint, more cars on the roads are bad for the atmosphere, but driving has a significantly lower carbon footprint than even a 20 minute flight. As a person highly sympathetic to environmental causes, I share the AEF and Greenpeace's concern about sports teams taking unnecessary flights to and from their destinations.

Moreover, from a financial standpoint I would suspect it would cost a lot more money to fly to Bournemouth than it would to take the team bus down there. In an area where the financial concerns of football clubs are of greater interest and importance to supporters, it feels a little tone-deaf for a club to make such a short-sighted decision.

Tottenham probably had its reasons for flying as opposed to driving, and we may not be getting the whole story as to what went into making this decision, but I personally would agree that the impact of travel should be carefully weighed against the financial and environmental factors. In this day and age, our society can no longer afford to be cavalier about such issues.