Australia: Pro Sports Expose Kids to Avalanche of Alcohol Ads
A new study sheds light on the extent AFL (Australian Football League) and NRL (National Rugby League) popularity is used to market alcohol brands to children. Almost all of men’s AFL and NRL clubs were found to accept money from Big Alcohol for advertising.
Pervasive alcohol promotions
17 of 18 men’s AFL clubs and 15 of 16 official men’s NRL clubs were found to accept money from the Alcohol Industry. In AFL clubs, the Geelong Cats are on the top of the ladder with three major and one minor alcohol advertising deals. In NRL clubs the North Queensland Cowboys are on top of the ladder with four major and one minor alcohol advertising deals.
The data come from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE). The prevalence of alcohol advertising in the AFL and NRL were analysed by reviewing clubs’ official websites, merchandise and social media channels.
Both AFL and NRL stalwarts are part of the national campaign to End Alcohol Advertising in Sport. They were both against the marketing of alcohol a known harmful product to young viewers of sports.
The NRL made $46 million profit last year and had more than one million viewers watching the NRL Telstra Premiership, which is great exposure for the sport, but not at the expense of kids who were exposed to three alcohol ads every minute of finals game,” said NRL stalwart and former player Steve Ella, as per FARE.
Four of the world’s largest alcohol companies have invested in the majority of alcohol advertising deals with the AFL and NRL, with Carlton and United Breweries (AB InBev, Belgium) having the most advertising deals.
Negative Effects of Alcohol
There is evidence that exposure to alcohol marketing encourages children to start alcohol use from an earlier age and is linked to increased consumption, including among school children and those who play the sport. Trish Hepworth, FARE Director of Research and Policy calls these deals with the alcohol industry “toxic” as alcohol is linked with the three leading causes of death among adolescents – unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide.
Alcohol is no ordinary commodity because of the high cost to the Australian community, $36 billion a year. This is an unacceptable price to pay.
Our sports clubs have a great opportunity to be part of the solution and model healthy sponsorship,” said Trish Hepworth, FARE Director of Research and Policy, as per FARE.
Alcohol Harm in Australia
Australia has a high alcohol per capita consumption compared to the WHO Western Pacific region. Over half (57.2%) of male youth in Australia binge on alcohol, which is a problematic rate, especially in the view that Australian men suffer from alcohol use disorder above the average of the region.
Australia lacks regulation on alcohol sponsorship and sales promotions, adopting such regulations can control the sponsorship and alcohol marketing through sports and reduce the harm alcohol has on children youth and the wider community.