Around the grounds: campaign update
Friday 31 March 2017
It has been a big week in the Booze Free Sport campaign.
After 20 years, Carlton United Breweries (CUB) has ended its association with Cricket Australia. CUB walked away from its long-term VB relationship with Cricket Australia, reportedly following increased pressure from lobby groups and health professionals.
Booze Free Sport would love to claim some credit, but before we had time to celebrate, Cricket Australia wrapped its arms around another alcohol industry suitor – Lion, despite glaring scientific evidence that exposure to alcohol ads is harmful to our kids.
In a small win, the new partnership with Lion at least does not extend to any branding of player clothing.
That we can now look forward to a world where our cricket stars are no longer paraded as walking talking beer billboards is a step in the right direction.
But while its players may no longer be plastered in alcohol logos, Cricket Australia is still dancing with the devil, and it is the families and kids – the fans of this great game, who will suffer as a result.
To date, Cricket Australia’s defence of its toxic addiction to alcohol sponsorship has been weak.
Australian kids are bombarded by toxic alcohol ads, but judging by Cricket Australia’s response to our recent letter outlining FARE’s concerns, Chief Executive James Sutherland and the Board of Cricket Australia just don’t get it.
Its weak defence is to point to its efforts to advocate for a responsible attitude to alcohol.
Tellingly, those efforts are encapsulated in two very short paragraphs.
First Cricket Australia boasts of its partnership with Drinkwise. But Drinkwise is an alcohol industry front; a SAPRO (social aspects/public relations organisation), commonly established by industries that harm their customers. Established to deflect criticism, Drinkwise is in fact a puppet of the alcohol industry. Cricket Australia calls out its partnership with Drinkwise on its “You won’t miss a moment if you Drinkwise” campaign. Far from a public health message, the campaign is a cleverly disguised beer ad, as FARE has strongly argued in the past.
Cricket Australia also points to its association with Red Frogs organisation. Sorry, but no matter how worthy passing out free water and lollies on the ground may be, weighed against the barrage of alcohol advertisements that are seen by millions of children, and not just those at the game, these efforts represent a grain of sand on an entire beach of damage.
Most damming of all is Cricket Australia’s position that it would not even support an approach to the Federal Government for the establishment of an alcohol sponsorship replacement fund.
If ever there was proof needed that Cricket Australia was addicted to Big Alcohol, there it is.
The summer sporting season is now in full swing and our Booze Free Sport campaign has its sights set on Cricket Australia.
Just look around at all the alcohol promotion and consider, what is Cricket Australia selling its millions of young fans during the Victoria Bitter One Day International series?
With Victoria Bitter as the official beer of the Australian Test team and Hardys as the official wine, alcohol will again feature more prominently than all the cricket stars from Australia or Pakistan, regardless of how well they perform with bat or ball.
The latest data shows that 6.2 million children are exposed to 11 million alcohol advertisements during cricket broadcasting.
Last season, New South Wales Premier Mike Baird voiced concerns that “… the captain of our cricket team sits there with a big VB on the middle [of his shirt]”.
When Australia celebrated its 2015 ICC World Cup win, the post-match discussion led by Shane Warne focused not on our team’s outstanding performance on the field, but how “thirsty” the players were and how they were going to celebrate with booze.
What kind of message does this alcohol-drenched culture send to the many impressionable young Australians who tune in to watch their sporting heroes play?
Children and families should be able to enjoy the game without being targeted by aggressive alcohol promotions.
That’s why we’re calling on team captain Steve Smith and Cricket Australia to rethink their unhealthy association with alcohol sponsors and replace these with more family friendly partnerships.
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