Alcohol sponsor ban could cripple sports

Bargara Golf Club professional Phil Curd realises the importance that sponsors have in enabling good competitions and facilities.
Bargara Golf Club professional Phil Curd realises the importance that sponsors have in enabling good competitions and facilities. News Mail/Ron Burgin

THE Bundy bear has roared over a proposal to put a blanket ban on alcohol advertising in sport as part of a public health push by the Federal Government.

“Addressing alcohol misuse is a complex issue, and there is no evidence to prove that banning alcohol sponsorship of sports will solve the problem,” a Bundaberg Rum spokesperson said.

“We also believe that banning alcohol sponsorship will have a detrimental impact on Australian sports at all levels.”

Bundaberg Rum is at the forefront of Australian sporting sponsorship, setting a new benchmark in 2005 by signing a $30 million five-year deal with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU).

That brought its investment in rugby to $50 million over a decade after the creation of the Bundaberg Rum Rugby Series in 2001.

The recommendation to ban alcohol advertising in sport - at venues, on TV and in other promotions - has been leaked from a report by the Preventative Health Taskforce.

The taskforce was set up by Minister for Health Nicola Roxon in 2008 to provide evidence-based advice on programs and strategies designed to combat chronic disease caused by obesity, tobacco and excessive drinking.

The aim is to develop a National Preventative Health Strategy.

The proposal has been condemned by alcohol companies and sporting giants, saying it could rip $300 million a year from codes.

“Bundaberg Rum makes a contribution to sport from a grassroots community level to national teams through its sponsorship investments,” a spokesman said.

However, the idea has its supporters, including professor of public health at Sydney University Dr Simon Chapman, who had a hand in ending cigarette sponsorship of sport in the 1980s.

“You would be hard-pressed to find a five-year-old who didn't immediately recognise warm and fuzzy Bundy bear,” he said.

“If the government were to get rid of alcohol sponsorship of sport we would see a generational change in attitudes towards drinking.”

Some critics of the plan say the smaller codes would miss out because non-alcohol sponsors such as banks and car-makers would simply migrate upwards to the top codes.

Bargara golf professional Phil Curd, who heads the sponsorship team for the club's 2009 Pro Am on August 4, said alcohol companies did not number among their 33 sponsors. But he could see trouble ahead for some sports if the ban came into force.

“It's going to be a real struggle for the national sporting clubs,” said Mr Curd.

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