Sep 13, 2021, 06:28AM

Pro Sports Teams Should Ban Alcohol Advertising

Booze is bad for you, and its association with professional atheltics makes no sense.

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Alcohol’s bad for you, but professional sports teams don’t care. While franchises try to act like they care about the community—whether it’s showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement or being patriotic/unpatriotic, depending on what pays more—alcohol is one example of where they shamelessly go against the best interest of the community.

People drink alcohol while watching sports, and venues charge a lot of money for it. At Fenway Park, beers exceed $10. However, the more pernicious side of the alcohol industry is advertising. That’s another revenue source for these teams, but it needs to stop. If you go to a sports venue, there are likely ads for alcohol there. During television broadcasts, it’s worse. There are ad reads during the broadcast for alcohol, and there are more ads for alcohol during commercial breaks.

One strategy addicts use when trying to quit is avoiding triggers. In this case, that means avoiding any reminders of alcohol. If such a person wants to watch a sporting event on television, they’ll receive constant reminders about alcohol. Those commercials will focus on how great some shitty mass-produced beer is, ignoring the problems that alcohol causes our society.

Perhaps the worst consequence of alcohol advertising is children receiving increased alcohol exposure. People often refer to a sport as a child’s game because children are largely the people playing sports. I haven’t played in a football game since I was 17 or a baseball game since I was 15. Now, they seem like a dumb way to get hurt and miss work. When kids see alcohol advertising, it gives them a more positive perception of alcohol. The increased exposure makes them more likely to drink underage in high quantities, and makes them more likely to have problems with alcohol later in life.

Do the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, or Los Angeles Dodgers care about this problem? If they do, they do a poor job of trying to combat the issue, as do most other professional sports teams. One has to wonder if it were legal if these teams would have cigarette commercials on television. Richard Nixon banned that in 1970. I think that’s good, but it’s also hypocritical that cigarette companies can’t advertise on TV while alcohol companies can. Both cause severe health problems if done in excess, but one can be a functioning smoker. If someone’s heavily dependent on alcohol, it’s difficult to be a productive. Alcohol leads to impaired driving, violent tendencies, risky sexual behavior, opioid misuse, and disrupted friendships and family relationships. There are enough reasons to ban all alcohol advertising from television but if the federal government won’t do it, private companies should take responsibility and do what is good for society.

Most politicians don't have the guts to stand up against alcoholism. The Dukakis family does and deserves credit for it, but Michael Dukakis isn’t governor of Massachusetts anymore. Now we see to-go cocktails, a push to bring back Happy Hour, proposals to allow bars to stay open later, a demand for more liquor licenses, and alcohol delivered to the home. It doesn’t help when you have an irresponsible media landscape that rips states for having restrictions in place to protect public health. If professional sports teams, the government, and the media listened to public health experts on alcohol the way that some worship Dr. Fauci, maybe then we’d have better alcohol laws.


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