Alcohol sponsorship: Bad idea?
What affect will banning alcohol sponsorship have on sporting events?
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Recently, the Irish Government have decided to address the nation’s alcohol problems with a range of new initiatives, one of them proposed is the limiting/banning the sponsorship of sporting teams and events by alcoholic beverage companies.
While there is no denying this country does have an alcohol culture and one that often extends to problematic alcoholism, this is one proposal I feel won’t have a major effect in combating this, and also may prove to be negative for major sports events and teams in this country.
Sponsorship from alcohol companies seems to be on the decline in recent years, with the All-Ireland Hurling Championship (Guinness) and the Heineken Cup, the only real major sporting events left that regularly take place on this soil with main public sponsors of this vein. However, we still should not limit or ban sponsorship opportunities from these companies should they want to increase in the future. Why? Money.
These companies are in one of the few sectors that make a turnover big enough, in these tough economic times, to allow them splash a bit of cash and sponsor these events. If alcoholic beverage companies were to be banned from sponsoring events/teams in Ireland, it would place a big question mark over their happening or taking place. There are of course other existing sponsors already, but can they afford to stump up the cash to fill the gap left by an alcohol company pulling out? Probably not.
There are a few sectors that would be capable of stepping up in place of alcohol companies. Someone like McDonalds or energy drink companies (Red Bull, Monster Energy) to name a few examples, but in time, if not straight away they would face the very same problem.
Take the MotoGP series for example. Once bankrolled by big tobacco giants but these sponsors faced the same “It’s bad for you! You’re influencing our children!” arguments that alcohol companies are now in Ireland. These sponsors had to give way and since then teams and riders, especially smaller ones have often struggled to pick up sponsorship. Energy drinks have filled the void somewhat, but not sufficiently or without facing the same arguments and the series continues to struggle in attracting new sponsors. This could well happen to sport in Ireland should sponsorship avenues be restricted.
On a final note, let’s be realistic. Alcohol sponsorship present or not, the All-Ireland Finals, Champions League Final or World Cup Final are always going to be accompanied by a few pints down the local or a couple of cans on the couch. Restricting the sponsorship and advertising will not change this fact.
Also, to those who say the sponsorship affects kids, 14/15 year old kids watching one of these events won’t come away from them thinking “Y’know what? That final made me want a pint”, they will go out and want to replicate the achievement. They will want to be the ones celebrating on the pitch with a trophy, not in front of a TV screen with a pint glass.