Sports and alcohol: who will win this match?

Although the last FIFA World Cup was held in a country where alcohol is strictly regulated, we nevertheless saw how many alcohol brands appeared around the world during the event. In this kind of festive event, direct advertising of alcoholic beverages or advertising through sponsorship takes an important place.

Although physical activity and thus sport are among the most important determinants of health, sport is often vampirized by the image and consumption of alcohol, which represents the second cause of preventable death in France. and is particularly involved in acts of violence within the family.

Isn’t it time to consider this paradoxical dynamic around sport and alcohol to ensure that sport transmits values ​​and a healthy lifestyle without wanting to play sport?

How to do? What are the obstacles? Here are some answers to think about as you get through Dry January (Read our article on the Alcohol Free January Challenge).

Alcohol and sports parties

The alcohol industry, with its huge marketing and advertising strike force, has not missed the target by associating its image with sports for several decades. According to the authors of the Décryptages review, published by the Addictions France association, dedicated to the dangerous relationship between sports and alcohol, this strategy: the consumption of alcohol, cleansed of its bad image by the aura of sports nobility, is intrinsically beneficial. That’s why alcoholics have always campaigned to participate in sporting events or officially sponsor them, as we regularly see in international competitions. “.

In France, relative prohibition was introduced after a 1991 House law banning the sale of alcohol in sports arenas. However, what about exemptions for major international sporting events, including media coverage of alcoholic beverage brands around the world, bans on alcohol consumption in event bars or fan zones? VIP boxes of stadiums, don’t come to friends’ houses with beer cans to watch the game together, and thus an almost automatic reflex passed down from generation to generation, how about a refreshment bar that allows sports clubs to play sports? bar etc. several times a year within sports clubs. ?

As we prepare to host the Olympic Games in Paris, will the authorities be able to stand up to the alcohol lobbies, enforce the House Bill and implement preventive measures to combat the risks of excessive alcohol consumption? red carpet for alcoholics? Could the alcohol lobby persuade France to ban alcohol sales in sports arenas during the 2024 Olympics? Addictions France president Dr. According to Bernard Basset, it’s about being vigilant. remembers that ” During the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, it was banned there, as we had it, but it was reintroduced into stadiums, except for alcohol. There is always the risk of this happening in Paris in 2024, because the alcohol lobby is powerful. The interests at stake are significant, of course, as this is a market that can be very lucrative for advertisers themselves, but also for all companies in the communications and media sector, as well as for sports teams. “.

A refreshing bar fix or how sports are ultimately funded by alcohol…

Yes, the alcohol lobby is powerful and has been constantly lobbying for the reintroduction of alcohol into sports venues since the House bill. It achieved this in 1999 by implementing the “clearance bar amendment”. This was to “help” clubs fund themselves, allowing them to hold refreshments 10 times a year. Funding sports activities through alcohol… Unbelievable quickness. The problem is that, in addition, these 10-year permits are often extended thanks to additional refreshment bars granted to each of the many associations affiliated with sports arenas, which may include tolerances from certain municipalities.

For Benoit Moreau, co-founder of the 7 de Coeur charity rugby tournament, alcohol is indeed an important source of income, but the organization of the Tournament is very focused on alcohol consumption during the event. He explains: ” We have diversified our ‘refreshment bar’ with a particular focus on high quality catering and also offer many non-alcoholic drinks. We are not interested in people getting drunk. This detracts from what is supposed to be a family-oriented event, as we have also set up activities for the little ones, and on top of that, these are organizational hassles we don’t want. We would be willing not to serve alcohol during our event, as we have no financial stake other than donating all of our profits, including those related to alcohol, to associations, and we have kept our fixed costs to a minimum. voluntary organization. However, we know from our own experience that if we did not sell it on the spot, people would bring their own alcohol, maybe strong alcohol. We search bags at the entrance and no outside alcohol is allowed, but it turns out that the tournament is held in an entirely non-enclosed location and we can’t be everywhere. Fortunately, alcohol-related incidents are rare at the event. “.

The fact is that even if the intentions are good and the organizations are aware of the problem, alcohol lobbies fund sports either through alcohol sales or sponsorship. According to Bernard Basset: One could imagine that the banking and insurance sectors, internet companies, etc. they take it upon themselves to admit themselves in stadiums to the detriment of alcoholics. The point is that the alcohol lobby develops its campaigns by saying that there is no sport without a holiday, and there is no holiday without alcohol. This is of course completely wrong, but other sectors would be hard pressed to find a mechanism as well developed as this one in terms of messaging. Our counter-message is that one can certainly have fun without getting drunk (1). “. Bernard Basset remains quite positive. He notes that mentalities are changing, the public is increasingly questioning alcohol consumption, as evidenced by the success of the January Challenge. According to him, prevention messages are improving and the ground is better for alcoholics than it was 20 years ago. less favorable. Moreover, he is pleased that the first attempt to circumvent the House Bill in 2019 failed. He states: ” By then, every bypass proposal had passed, along with the snack bar amendment, allowing alcohol advertising on the Internet, street displays. In 2019, virtually a hundred MPs drafted a law on the restoration of alcohol in stadiums, but thanks to the monitoring work and the call of associations and institutions in the fight against drug addiction, a week later the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health declared that they would not question this aspect of the House of Loi at the time. “.

Sports are in the service of preventing risky consumption of alcohol

If alcohol does not mix well with exercise because alcohol dehydrates, slows reaction times, impairs coordination, and also restores sleep and therefore alters recovery, on the other hand, exercise can help patients suffering from addiction to addictive products, including alcohol.

This is the result of joint work between MILDECA (Interministerial Mission to Combat Drug Addiction and Addictive Behaviors) and ONAPS (National Observatory of Physical Activity and Sedentarity). This study aims, on the one hand, to review summaries and literature on the relationship between physical activity and the prevention or reduction of risky consumption, especially the impact of physical activity on therapeutic management for patients with substance use disorders. On the other hand, the question is to find out whether physical or sports activities tend to consume under certain conditions, in certain populations or depending on the sport, on the contrary. Corinne Drougard, MILDECA’s health mission manager, is a matter of keeping an eye on the trends emerging from this review published on MILDECA’s website at the end of 2022. Indeed, the highlighted studies are very heterogeneous in terms of methodology and quality. However, the study suggests that the practice of moderate physical activity will be more protective than the consumption of psychoactive substances. On the other hand, some studies show that more intense physical activity experience is associated with more alcohol consumption. It all depends on age, gender, type of activity, competitive or recreational sport, team or individual sport, etc. In addition, some studies in the review show that in terms of tertiary prevention, that is, in people who already suffer from a use disorder, for example, the integration of physical activity within the framework of management by an addiction structure allows at least an improvement. in the short term, during the care and well-being of patients. Corinne Drugard emphasizes that structured programs incorporating physical activity are increasingly being built into addictionology structures, and MILDECA hopes to soon be able to rely on evaluations of these programs, which will lead to professional referrals.

With the idea of ​​always relying on physical activity as a tool for prevention, MILDECA has been working with some fifty local authorities of all sizes for several months as part of its network. Indeed, some of these local authorities are developing local prevention and regulatory control measures in the area of ​​risky behaviour. For example, they suggest creating synergies between the “public health” and “physical activity” departments of the same community.

Corinne Drugard notes: “ For example, mayors have various regulatory levers to intervene in the availability of alcohol during an event in general and a sporting event in particular. They can play on the fact that the consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited during the working hours of drinking establishments, on public highways, and on the exemption of associations wishing to hold parties and serve alcoholic beverages. It can also make non-alcoholic drinks in conjunction with sports clubs. Obviously, we can go further and also think about implementing prevention messages in “fan zones” with sports federations as well as communities and even inviting elite athletes to prevention events. “. For now, the sport seems to be so financially dependent on alcohol that it is difficult to see big sports personalities taking this path. Footballer Paul Pogba started the movement in 2021 during a press conference by taking a bottle of beer from the sponsor brand of the competition he was participating in out of the field of cameras.

(1) Read our article on fun without alcohol

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