Sport and the Arts – Alcohol Apart

Analysis of Committee Recommendations on Alcohol and Sport
Should sport be different to a music or arts festival?

Sport and alcohol and artsIs there a logic to treating sport differently?

Last week the Oireachtas Committee investigating a proposed ban on alcohol sponsorship of sport  ruled against the merit of a ban, suggesting a number of alternative measures in its place.

Day by day we are considering each of those recommendations, the basis on which it is made, how it might be put into practice and how it might have been put in place elsewhere around the world.

Today: Sponsorship of sports and sporting events should be treated in the same way as sponsorship of the arts, music and other festivals.

This is perhaps the easiest recommendation to fully and wholeheartedly support and yet it is one that runs counter to much of the debate put forward by those promoting a prohibition on sporting sponsorship.

The argument is that because sport celebrates physical health and wellbeing that the inclusion of alcohol messages so close to it suggests that it can in some way enhance physical capacity, or at the very least not damage it.

And yet the idea that alcohol may be seen as aiding or even essential to creativity by being associated with music and the arts is  left to one side.

This makes little sense to us and we are pleased that this recommendation is included in the report.

If sport were to be singled out what real purpose would it serve the health of the nation in isolation?

We could be left in a position where supporters going into a game would find themselves looking at billboards advertising a Heineken Green Energy Festival or Guinness Jazz Festival and having promotional material thrust in their hands in the streets surrounding a big game.

They would be prevented however, for the sake of their health from seeing any association with the game they are going to from the moment they cross the threshold of the stadium.

Alcohol companies would be forced to withdraw €35 million of funding from sports events and programmes, and divert it instead to major arts festivals which would if anything present a younger and less physically aware demographic.

It would be interesting to compare the audience profile at this week’s Justin Timberlake concert with that for the Leinster Football Final or on the streets of France for the Tour de France.

Catch up with the rest of this series

Day One: Sponsorship by the Alcohol Drinks Industry should remain in place until such time as it can be replaced by other identifiable streams of comparable funding.

Day Two: A Code of Practice for the consumption of alcohol within stadia should be drawn- up by all sporting organisations.

Day Three: A fixed percentage of all sponsorship received by each and every organisation (sporting, cultural, arts, music etc.) from the alcohol drinks industry, should be ring-fenced and paid into a central fund to be administered by an appropriate body. That fund should be used exclusively for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Programmes.

Today: Sponsorship of sports and sporting events should be treated in the same way as sponsorship of the arts, music and other festivals.

Wednesday: A Code should be introduced to make it mandatory for all brand owners and rights-holders to provide responsible training in selling, advertising and marketing and to promote responsible drinking at all sponsored events.

Thursday: All sporting organisations should be encouraged to support programmes which contribute to social inclusion in order to reduce the abuse of alcohol, particularly among young people.

Friday: A prohibition on sponsorship by the alcohol industry should only be considered if it is done on a pan-European basis in order to ensure that Irish sports and sporting organisations are not operating at a disadvantage relative to their international competitors.

The Committee report can be downloaded here

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