AFL premiership player and coach Michael Malthouse is calling for a national lifetime ban on alcohol advertising in sport.
The North Ballarat hall of famer, who grew up in Wendouree, has launched launch the End Alcohol Advertising in Sport campaign in Melbourne with a star-studded line-up of Australian sporting greats.
It comes less than three weeks after the AFL grand final saturated viewers with 118 cases of spruiking alcohol in 161 minutes of game time, including analysis during quarter and half-time breaks – all during children’s viewing hours.
Malthouse said young children were impressionable and must be protected.
“Kids should be able to watch sport and identify with just sport; not harmful advertising that impacts their health,” Malthouse said.
“More importantly now I look at the impact on young kids and I see my grandchildren, who range in the age from nine (years) to nine months...I see how affected they are by things that happen on tv or through the movies.”
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Australia’s three major sporting codes – AFL, National Rugby League and Cricket Australia – account for the greatest volume and most highly visible alcohol advertising in sport, according to research from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.
The study found alcohol advertising during the NRL grand final last month was more than three times higher than the AFL final a day earlier.
Public health professor and global health champion Rob Moodie said change was possible. Mr Moodie, a former chairman for NRL club Melbourne Storm, is calling for the Free TV Code to be revised so original guidelines to protect children are not negated by the sports exemption.
He pointed to tobacco advertising as an example of change and said nine of 10 Australians agreed children should not be exposed to alcohol advertising during children’s viewing hours.
“There was a time when unhealthy products were accepted as part of the game but that time has long passed,” Mr Moody said.
“The problem with alcohol advertising in sport in Australia is that it’s such a big part of sport. Sport is helping to make unhealthy alcohol consumption a natural part of sport.
The kings of Australian sport have become the ambassadors for booze and that’s not a good thing for our kids.
End Alcohol Advertising in Sport campaign champions
• Cheryl Bart: 31st person to achieve Explorers Grand Slam. Australian Himalayan Foundation ambassador, Sports Connect and Football Federation patron
• Rod Butterss: former AFL St Kilda Football Club president
• Richard Charlesworth: hockey, World Cup and Champions Trophy-winning coach for Kookaburras and Hockeyroos
• Steve Ella: former Parramatta Eels, State of Origin and Australian Test representative NRL football player
• Clover Maitland: Olympic Gold-winning Hockeyroo
• Mick Malthouse: AFL premiership player and coach
• John Inverarity: Australian Test cricketer 1968-72, Cricket Australia chairman of selectors (2011-14)
• Mitch Edwards: Major League Baseball, Philadelphia Phillies
• Rob Moodie: public health professor, Melbourne Storm NRL chairman (2006-2010)
• John Alexander: Australian politician and former professional tennis player
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