The strong tie between alcohol and college athletes is well-established and is evident through the marketing practices of the alcohol industry and the strong association between athletic events and high-risk consumption.
Alcohol Advertising at College Sports Venues
Alcohol advertisers often use college and university athletic events as a vehicle for their messages. When alcohol beverage companies sponsor athletic events and venues, stadiums display alcohol advertisements, fans are allowed to drink during games, and sports bars bombard students with advertisements and cheap liquor sales, it is little surprise that college athletics are associated with a “drinking culture.” The College Alcohol Study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health confirms the impact of such a culture, noting in a December 2002 report that college and university sports fans drink more heavily and more often than non-fans.
Clearly, attempts to restrict the marketing and promotion of alcohol would benefit from an examination of the ties between alcohol and athletes on campus and in the community.
Following are environmental strategies that focus on restricting marketing and promotion of alcohol at sports events on- and off-campus:
- Restrict alcohol advertising in sports stadiums
- Restrict alcohol advertising on athletics publications
- Work with local bar owners to limit marketing and promotion targeted at fans and athletes
Availability of Alcohol at College Sports Events
College athletic events are often an occasion where students find easy access to alcohol. Whether it’s students gathering at a house party to watch an event on television, or tailgating at the games themselves, heavy consumption is often associated with college athletic events, leading to hospitalizations for overdoses, and acts of violence among fans of both winning and losing teams.
Campus administrators can take steps to reduce these problems by curbing the availability of alcohol at these events. Students hosting off-campus parties can be offered brochures on responsible host practices, and neighborhood watch programs working with local law enforcement can be developed to suppress and restrict such “game” parties.
On campus, administrators can work to ban tailgating at all campus athletic events, ban alcohol inside stadiums, and institute no readmittance at events so students are not able to consume alcohol outside and come back. In some stadiums, fans’ bags are checked for alcohol containers as they enter. Other stadiums that continue to serve alcohol do so on a limited basis, restricting the amount and time of alcohol sales, and instituting responsible beverage practices.
The following environmental strategies seek to reduce availability of alcohol at athletic events:
- Institute no readmittance policy at sporting events
- Ban alcohol sales at events, or restrict size and number of container, and sales of alcohol after a certain point in the game
- Ban tailgating at sporting events