Friday, May 04, 2007

Alcohol and Sports

For the second time in five years, a St. Louis Cardinal pitcher died. This time it was Josh Hancock who apparently perished about a week ago in a late night car accident in the St. Louis area. His car smashed into the back of a tow truck parked on the shoulder of a highway. He was declared dead on the scene. His team and all of baseball mourned. The Cardinals cancelled one game; and in parks around the nation, players and fans stood in a moment of silence to pay respects. Then it was play ball, the televised action brought to you by proud beer behemoths, brokers of alcohol, the substance that we now know imbibed Hancock in his final drive, according to reports in Chicago and St. Louis newspapers.

We may now expect public service announcements that caution sports fans and all motorists about the hazards of drinking and driving. What we will not hear are discussions about the intimate association between alcohol and professional (and amateur) sports, a relationship that is amniotic. Beer is the drug of choice at all baseball parks. Red-faced vendors log in several miles a night pushing their wares, shouting as colorful as possible the name of their beverage. The fans turn their heads from the action on the field and raise their fingers to place their order. But that’s not where it starts. There are interesting things to know about the metabolic relationship between alcohol and sports, such as this.
A U.S. study conducted in 2001 found that 93 per cent of young people between the ages of 8 and 17 view sports on TV, and close to one third use some kind of sports media daily (TV, videogames, magazines, newspapers, the Internet or radio). And it's not just boys who are fans. Although they consume the greatest amounts of sports media (97 per cent), at 89 per cent, the girls aren't far behind. Given the interest and passion young people bring to the sports they play and watch, it's easy to understand why there are ethical concerns when companies for adult-oriented products, such as alcohol, use sports to reach audiences. Alcohol companies are also huge sports fans. In 2003 the alcohol industry spent more than $540 million to place nearly 90,000 ads in sports programs on TV in the U.S.2 In fact, 60 per cent of all alcohol advertising on television occurs during sporting events.


Anonymous fred said...

There seems to be a link between alcohol and sports. I wonder if athletes somehow feel that certain rules don't apply to them. There is a good local CBS news report on the DUI arrest of Steve McNair here:

5/10/2007 11:13 AM  
Blogger fromclay said...

Thanks for the link, Fred, and for dropping by.

5/10/2007 10:41 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home