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Social responsibility in sport

Sport is associated with health, fair play, competition, striving for excellence, friendship, community, unity, teamwork. It inspires feelings of identity and pride.

But competitive, big time sport has its dark side. Cheating, doping, gambling, and sponsorship by socially harmful products such as alcohol.  Nearly all Australian national male dominated sport competitions, teams, and events, are sponsored by alcohol brands. The list sadly includes Australian football, cricket, rugby, horse racing, motor racing, golf, tennis, surfing. This is deeply ironic as athletes can’t afford to use the sponsor’s product, due to the way it can impact on their performance.

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Alcohol reduces sporting performance because it affects our coordination, and judgement. More specifically, alcohol restricts the body’s ability to produce glucose which contributes to our levels of endurance, a key factor in most sports, and alcohol also causes a rise in cortisol which inhibits the recovery of damaged muscle (1,2).

Many elite sports people drink sparingly, if at all. Many drink no alcohol during the season to gain an advantage over the rival who may drink.

But there’s more. No parent wants alcohol marketed to their kids, which is why every advertising code formally states alcohol can’t be advertised to children.

In practice it’s different as the codes are written by the alcohol industry and riddled with loopholes. Nevertheless people are waking up that professional sports have become vehicles for advertising alcohol and gambling.

Sixty per cent of Australians want sporting sponsorship banned, according to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey. This majority is growing year on year and it won’t be stopped.

National sports bodies could win a lot of goodwill if they acted to end alcohol sponsorships before they are forced to adopt other, socially friendly, sponsors.

So join The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) in signing their petition against alcohol sponsorship in one football code.

Let’s change the question from, ‘why isn’t alcohol out of sport?’, to ‘why was it there in the first place?”

Need convincing? Watch this.

When sharing this on social media, please use the hashtag #boozefreesport.

References

(1) Lecoultre V; Schutz Y. (2009) Effect of a small dose of alcohol on the endurance performance of trained cyclists, Alcohol and Alcoholism 44:3, pp.278-283.

(2) Barnes MJ; Mundel T; Stannard SR. (2010)Acute alcohol consumption aggravates the decline in muscle performance following strenuous eccentric exercise, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 13:1, pp.189-193.