You are here: Home News & Events Aadielah Maker Diedericks - Cape Times24 Apr 2018

Aadielah Maker Diedericks - Cape Times24 Apr 2018

Sometimes I think I read from a different script. I understood that sport is an outlet that promotes one’s physical and mental health and is good for developing social skills. That’s why for the past 12 years I have been running around driving my kids to get to practise, to get to the game and organising my work schedule so that I can attend at least one of their matches.

But it seems as if I might have gotten that wrong. The biggest sports news these days is the announcement by Castle of their sponsorship of the rugby Sevens teams. Our screens promote Castle as the “official beer” of the Proteas, and Heineken adverts flood our screens during the Uefa cup.

No mention of 14-year-old Malika Hamza, who will captain the Under 16 girls Western Province cricket team, or Durban Surf winning the national Under 14 lifesaving championships, or Hilton College keeping their place at the top of the school cricket league, or Grey College staying at the top of the Under 16 hockey rankings! Would this not be more relevant and motivational for children and youths?

At the same time, we have adverts for the Cape Town Jazz Festival brought to you by the Department of Arts and Culture. Now here is when my unversed brain gets blown. The government is the main sponsor for a largely adult recreational activity and private venture.

But where is the government sponsorship when it comes to recreational activities that involve children and young people, watched by millions of families? It is the alcohol industry’s advertising that is centre stage. Children idealise their sports heroes, who are kitted out with alcohol industry branding.

I can’t help but conclude that this is a deliberate means of advertising alcohol to young people. A means to lure people into drinking, and to increase profits. Then I get angry, because this is what my children and your children are exposed to every day – alcohol advertising through participating in or watching sport.

A study done by the SA Medical Research Council found that 77.5% of adolescents who reported having drunk alcohol in the past six months had seen alcohol adverts through participating in and watching sports. This is worrying because in a review of 12 studies, researchers found that exposure to alcohol advertising increased children and young people’s initiation into alcohol consumption and influenced the amount of alcohol they drank. This means that the more advertising to which children are exposed, the younger they start drinking and the more likely they are to binge-drink.

If this is the case, why are we allowing alcohol companies to sponsor sport? Sport should be sponsored by the government or by private corporations.

The government is about to adopt the National Liquor Act that includes provisions on alcohol advertising. We believe this should extend to banning sports sponsorship by the alcohol industry.

The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (Saapa) calls on the South African government and President Cyril Ramaphosa to be bold in the face of pressure from the alcohol industry.

We did it with tobacco. We banned sport sponsorship by the tobacco industry. And sport didn’t stop! We can do it with alcohol too!

South Africa just hosted the World Tobacco or Health Conference. The evidence is clear. Restricting exposure to harmful behaviour like smoking and drinking through banning advertising and increasing the price can reduce consumption.

Join the conversation about who should sponsor sports in South Africa and have your say about something that affects all of our children. You can sign the petition at http://www.boozefreesport.org. au/

Find out about the upcoming Indaba on who should fund sports.

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