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Hopes Baseball Australia will lead charge to smash alcohol ads out of the ground

A decision by Baseball Australia to no longer accept sponsorship from alcoholic beverage companies has failed to convince other sports to end their relationships with beer, wine and spirit companies.

Baseball Australia recently rejected a sponsorship deal offered by an overseas alcohol brand, which it cites as proof they are willing to act on their pledge.

However, the stance will only apply to the Australian national team and junior leagues – not to the eight independent teams competing in Australia’s domestic baseball league, the ABL.

Six of the eight ABL teams are sponsored by alcohol beverage companies. One of those, the Canberra Cavalry, will continue its relationship with ACT brewery BentSpoke despite BA’s tough new stance.

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education CEO Michael Thorn praised Baseball Australia for its decision and hopes other codes – as well as media outlets covering live sport – will take similar action to give booze ads the boot.

“What Baseball (Australia) has done here is show the way to the rest of the sports, as well as to governments, about what can be done,” Mr Thorn told Macquarie Sports Radio‘s Cam Reddin.

According to polling conducted by FARE, 92 per cent of Australian parents believe children should not be exposed to “alcohol brand advertising”.

“It’s pretty clear where Australia stands on alcohol advertising and its association with sports,” Mr Thorn said.

“Overwhelmingly, Australians hate it. They want advertising out of the games and they want governments to do something about it”.

“I think that people generally believe there should be less alcohol sponsorship rather than more,” he said.

Critics of the move argue there is little point removing ads for alcohol companies given most venues still sell alcoholic drinks, including spirits, at the ground.

“Alcohol brands are much cleverer, much more sophisticated, in the techniques they use to promote their brands,” Mr Thorn said.

Advertisements are no longer restricted to 30-second slots during breaks in play. Products are advertised on LED boards around the ground, projected digitally onto the field of play and allowed on player uniforms.

Mr Thorn does not want to see the sale of alcohol banned from stadiums, arguing the law should not prevent responsible adults from drinking at sporting events.

“I don’t think alcohol advertising bans are going to deal with drunken idiots, certainly not most of them. This is really about the way alcohol brands use sports to recruit drinkers and encourage more drinking,” he said.

Listen to the full interview below. Tune into the Weekend Warm-Up with Cam Reddin – 4.00am-7.00am Saturday and Sunday mornings

Cam Reddin