01:46am Wednesday 15 July 2020

Sevens tournament shows alcohol’s ‘fervent’ presence in sport

Over the same two days of the globally televised tournament, there were 317 occasions in which people in the crowd were shown consuming alcohol, according to Dr Sarah Gee from the School of Sport and Exercise.

Dr Gee analysed more than 16 hours of free-to-air coverage of the 2010 tournament, finding that each hour of television had an average of four minutes and 49 seconds of alcohol promotion. She says event showed how alcohol brands achieve a fervent presence at sporting events through “non-standard” and indirect forms of promotion.

Her findings were presented at a Sport and Alcohol conference being hosted at the Albany campus.

The three-day conference was opened by University Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey, who said there was a need to think seriously about banning alcohol advertising and sponsorship. He suggested a “central pot” could be created for sports sponsorship.

Another speaker, Health Sponsorship Council chief executive Iain Potter told of the “great fear” felt by sports bodies at the prospect of losing a source of funding, but said the sponsorship market was always changing as companies came and went and as circumstances changed. The liberalisation of alcohol advertising in the 1990s, for example, had led to money being shifted away from sponsorship. He described the council’s role in taking over the tobacco sponsorships that existed in the 1990s. “The market adapts. It’s adapting all the time.”

School of Sport and Exercise head Associate Professor Steve Stannard, who chaired the conference organising committee, says the role the alcohol industry plays in promoting, funding and supporting sportspeople and sporting clubs is complex and one of the conference’s objectives was to investigate that relationship.

Tomorrow the conference includes an address by Wigram MP and Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton on the politics around alcohol and sport, a discussion about alcohol management at large events, and a speech by the sports journalist and commentator Richard Boock.

Day three features contributions from Jim Doyle, chief executive of the New Zealand Rugby League, Rob Nichol of the Rugby Players Association and Lyndon Bray of the New Zealand Rugby Union.

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