JOHN INVERARITY. Do we have a higher priority as a society than the raising our children: We must end alcohol advertising in sport.

As responsible adults we need to do all we can to ensure that our young are provided with the best opportunities to live purposeful, fulfilling lives and are encouraged to partake of these opportunities. We need to strive to provide them with an optimum set of values and attitudes, and an environment in which they will make lifestyle choices that will enhance their physical, mental and social wellbeing. There is the question of alcohol and its place in our society. 

It would seem to me that rational, considered and responsible voices would conclude that, for those who will take the pathway to partaking of alcoholic beverages, coming to it later rather than sooner, in moderation rather than in excess and in an always responsible manner, is highly preferable.  Might I add, it’s a ‘no-brainer’!

The linking of alcohol with elite athletic performance and the fitness, health and physical and mental prowess therein is totally inappropriate. It does not survive logical thought based on any reasonable system of values. Having our sporting heroes as ambassadors for booze? Having Australia’s major sporting venues and codes awash with alcohol advertising? It is inappropriate. It is wrong! It is unacceptable.

To attempt to entice young people into using alcohol, probably earlier than would otherwise be the case and perhaps with less restraint by way of using the glamour and excitement of elite sport, does not survive scrutiny.

Australia is a wonderful country and, mostly, a great place in which to raise children. But the best interests of our young as they grow to maturity, together with a firm and steady moral compass, must be held constantly to the fore.

Despite the fact that Australia is a very good country in which to grow up, our society is beset with some very significant problems, domestic violence, bullying, corporate integrity and drug abuse (including alcohol) being among these.  Iconic institutions such as elite sporting organisations (the AFL, NRL and Cricket Australia) have a great opportunity, in fact a social responsibility, to play a role in addressing these issues and being a very considerable force for good; not least, a force for the wellbeing of our children.

All that is best about sport has healthy lifestyles, physical and mental fitness, high integrity, respect for all, fair play, openness and decency at the forefront. These iconic sporting institutions need to accept the responsibility to be a force for good and have time honoured values at the pinnacle of their priorities – this, rather than money, greed and marketing, with some values tacked on along the way.

Most good elite sporting clubs now claim to have as a priority for those on their list: the development of not only good players, but good people; with healthy balanced lifestyles, mature outlooks who are strong contributors to their communities.

How can this be reconciled with supporting the advertising of alcohol in the presence of children?

In the interests of our children as they grow to maturity, I urge people to support not having children exposed to vigorous and glamorous enticement into the use of alcohol. The advertising of alcohol at sporting venues and events should not be permitted.

John Inverarity is a former Australian cricketer who played six Test matches for Australia and also captained Western Australia and South Australia in Sheffield Shield. John was chairman of selectors for Cricket Australia from 2011 to 2014. Outside of cricket, John has enjoyed a distinguished and extensive career as an educator and was Headmaster of Perth’s prestigious Hale School from 1989 until 2003. John is currently an ambassador for Teach for Australia.

This speech was delivered at the launch of the End Alcohol Advertising in Sport campaign in Melbourne on 10 October 2018.

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