GrogWatch is outraged that Cricket Australia has censored the messages of the WACA sponsor Healthway to ensure alcohol sponsors aren’t upset, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald. Not only is the alcohol industry failing to self-regulate its own ads, but its now managing to squash health messages. This is not going unnoticed and concerned parents are hitting back. This week we are publishing the view of one of the parents, Suzy Gaymer, who has written to GrogWatch about this issue.
As a parent of three grown up adult sons and an educator with a background in Psychology and Sociology, I am completely opposed to any association between alcohol and sport. Competing agendas are robbing our next generation of an unadulterated love of sport and healthy lifestyle. Instead they are forced to pair exercise with ‘a well-earned thirst’ for alcohol. If we are to build young people’s physical fitness, healthy identities and mental wellbeing, we have to take a stand and disassociate alcohol from sport.
Alcohol is a drug that has substantial negative effects on growing bodies. Being active in a sporting environment is essential to the development of young people and should therefore NEVER be linked with alcohol sponsorship in any circumstance regardless of the monetary profits generated.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a social drink in moderation, as an adult who has benefitted from a strong, natural and healthy (dietary) upbringing. This is because I was not exposed to the constant notion of alcohol being a necessary ingredient for a ‘good time’. Linking alcohol with sport sends a very contradictory message to young people.
Whilst we encourage a passion for sport as an iconic part of Australian identity, we also foster a love of alcohol which, far too often, leads to binge drinking. Sadly, this has often resulted in reduced participation in sporting activities and an unhealthy lifestyle.
In my experience, the effects of alcohol can and do lead to a destruction of young people’s mental health. Research has shown that between the ages of 15 and 25, the brain rewires itself as part of the transition from adolescence to adulthood. This rewiring makes young people more at risk of forming a dependency on alcohol and other drugs. The early years are no better; this is when long lasting perceptions are formed of desirable behaviours and social expectations.
Why on earth would we want to placate marketers and big corporate sponsors to make a quick buck, whilst charging them with the most vulnerable and impressionable members of our society? In doing so, we are irresponsibly drugging our next generation and impeding our future. The crippling cycle of alcohol advertising and sport must be broken to ensure a thriving and healthy society continues to evolve.
Suzy is not alone in her views. New national research released this week by the Salvation Army and reported in The Age shows that the majority of Australians want to see alcohol advertising phased out of sport.
The study found that almost three-quarters of Australians believed that alcohol and sport were too closely related. And 70% of people said that the amount of alcohol advertising seen by people under 25 encouraged them to drink more.
GrogWatch congratulates the Australian Medical Association for calling for a Parliamentary Inquiry into alcohol advertising and promotion and the ways that it targets young people. This call has been backed by the Greens.
The Cricket Australia decision is yet another demonstration of the alcohol industry’s power. If you want to hit back and make your views known, write to your local MP expressing your concern about alcohol advertising in sport.