Sports reporters start to question

Sports reporters start to ask the big question

What is the value to sport of alcohol sponsorships? That is the hot issue right now in the sports section of the Australian media. On Sunday during the ABC’s Offsiders Gerard Whateley noted the mixed message conveyed by alcohol sponsored sports people when they drink themselves into trouble. That is not unusual of course, but it is unusual for sports commentators to treat it as a serious issue. Sports that take the alcohol sponsors’ money should be warned.

Gerard Whateley drew a comparison between Kelloggs, which last week was found to have breached the rules by advertising CocoPops to children under 12, in contravention of the code which bans such promotion to kids, and the leading Australian sporting codes which regularly expose children under 12 to advertising of alcohol, as well as fast food and gambling.

Offsiders spent some time on the irony of Queensland State of Origin coach Mal Meninga explaining his late night ejection from a bar while surrounded by logos of the sponsor, XXXX Gold. It was a reminder of the infamous image of Ricky Pointing wearing his VB cap while dispatching Andrew Symonds from the Test team for drinking too heavily too often. This time Mal Meninga admitted that alcohol sponsorship “was something the administrators have to think about”.

An article in The Australian on Friday asked: “Is the NRL’s stand on booze hypocritical?” It noted two other State of Origin players were banned from the competition last week following alcohol fuelled misbehaviour, and in a separate episode last week an NRL player is facing charges after drinking in a Cairns bar. And Jonathan Horn in The Sunday Age continued the theme: he said, “…sport, and the television networks, are roaring drunk on alcohol sponsorships.”

Do you wonder why alcohol sponsors never complain that their brand is trashed by the sporting boozers? The sporting codes always assure the public that their sponsor is ‘committed to promoting moderate drinking’ yet the sponsor is careful never to quote the official low risk drinking advice – a maximum of 4 standard drinks. And they never complain when the sports people they sponsor behave in a way that embarrasses the sport and leads the role model to be fined or suspended or banned. Why is that we wonder?

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