Climate change is likely to melt glaciers, raise sea levels and obliterate vulnerable species. It may also disrupt venerable sporting traditions. The 2020 Olympic marathon, previously scheduled for Tokyo, is now being relocated to cooler Sapporo, thanks to extreme heat waves that have killed hundreds and hospitalized thousands in recent years.

It's no isolated incident. As global temperatures rise, athletic events as diverse as sled-dog races and baseball games are feeling the effects. Sports may seem inconsequential next to other climate disruptions, such as habitat loss or warming seas. But for many people, they offer a far more immediate and tangible reminder of what's at stake in this crisis. For the sports business, that's both a challenge and an opportunity.

Anybody who's experienced a rainout understands the close relationship between sports and the weather. However, the threat of climate change really started dawning on the sports world in the late 1990s. In particular, the International Olympic Committee began worrying that long-term climate shifts could severely disrupt future games. One study analyzed data from the host cities of 19 previous Winter Olympics and determined that as many as 11 of them wouldn't be cold enough to host the events by 2050.