Is alcohol advertising in sport influencing our children?

There are calls today for a national conversation on the impact of alcohol advertising in sports like cricket.
There are calls today for a national conversation on the impact of alcohol advertising in sports like cricket. JOE CASTRO

AFTER a long spell at the crease, or out in the field Aussies have for decades been told to quench their hard earned thirst with a beer.

The reality however is that not since the late 1980s and early 1990s have we seen top flight players guzzling a frosty chop at the end of the game, but throughout almost every ad break the television viewer is urged to grab a drink.

With alcohol so ingrained in Aussie culture, this concern has at times been analysed but no major response has followed to limit alcohol advertising in sport.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians is on the front foot today calling for an end to alcohol sponsorships in cricket, noting the naming rights for today's fourth VB One Day International (ODI) one of more than 20 alcohol-related sponsorships in cricket across Australia.

Research by the RACP has revealed that New South Wales is one of the worst states for it with five alcohol sponsorships spread across Cricket NSW, the Sydney Sixers and the Sydney Thunder.

The RACP is concerned about the impact alcohol promotion has on young cricket fans - a sentiment backed strongly by the NSW public with a survey showing 64% of those polled were concerned about the exposure of children to alcohol promotions in sport.

RACP Paediatrics & Child Health Division President, Dr Sarah Dalton, says it's unacceptable that young children are being bombarded with alcohol promotion both at the ground and at home watching on TV.

"We're overdue for a national conversation to discuss how big brewers are using sport as a channel to market their product, leaving our children as the collateral damage," Dr Dalton said.

"It is happening in too many Australian sports and it needs to stop.

"These promotions normalise alcohol, with Australian kids getting the message that alcohol is an important part of socialising and sports.

"During one of the VB ODI games, I urge you to keep a tally of how many times you spot an alcohol ad or logo, either at the ground, on a player's shirt, or in an advertisent on TV - I'm sure the number would surprise and shock you.

"Sadly, we know this type of marketing leads children and adolescents to start drinking earlier and makes young drinkers prone to binge drinking patterns.

"Sometimes it starts them on a journey that has a lifelong impact. It's not surprising that the peak age for the onset of alcohol use disorders is only 18 years old."

Dr Dalton also criticised the Australian Communications and Media Authority who she says need to do more to ensure children are protected during sports broadcasts.

"Sports are the only programs allowed to broadcast alcohol advertisements before 8:30pm, on weekends and public holidays, at times when children are most likely to be watching television. Because of this it's estimated that children under the age of 18 are exposed to 50 million alcohol advertisements each year," she said.

The response from Cricket Australia today should be interesting.

Perhaps the same could again be asked of betting agencies and their advertising reach and sponsorships in sport?

Topics:  advertising alcohol sport

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