The Australian (Australia) – Sport can’t afford to stay under the influence of alcohol

  • Post category:World News

Alcohol  provides sporting bodies with pots of gold.

It also causes them untold angst. It’s a dilemma that tugs at the very fibres of sport. How can organisations take money from the same party that inevitably contributes to their players disgracing both themselves and their sport?

Not surprisingly, Canberra star Joel Monaghan was under the influence of alcohol when he decided to perform a prank on a teammate by engaging in a sex act with a dog.

Among the Raiders’ sponsors is Local Liquor, which has more than 250 stores across Australia.

In one breath, Canberra takes money from an organisation that makes millions out of selling alcohol.

In another, it sanctions a player who committed a vile act while under the influence of that very product.

Leading sports psychologist Jeff Bond believes if organisations want to cut down on the number of ugly incidents within their sports, they can start by rejecting the riches on offer from alcohol companies.

“Of course you could talk for ages about the link between alcohol and sport,” Bond said.

“Seems to be it’s paradoxical almost that the boffins in charge of some of these codes are the first to decry poor behaviour by athletes under the influence and yet they’re happy to take the money from alcohol companies. If they really, really want to tackle that kind of stuff, they really have to put their money where their mouth is.

“Unless the people at the top are prepared to make a stand, and say we’re going to resist the alcohol money, I think it’s going to be a struggle. They can sack them, but at the end of the day it’s not going to stop it.”

The problem for modern footballers, apart from their sordid behaviour, is that society has stripped them of their privacy.

There’s a fair chance the explosive cocktail of booze and brethren was causing trouble when Dally Messenger made the famous switch across the rugby divide.

The difference is footballers are now public figures, playing in an age when cutting-edge technology and social media leave them at the mercy of anyone with a mobile phone and a Twitter account.

“Young footballers have been caught in something. . . when you do something you can instantly share it with your fans,” said Phil Jauncey, also a sports psychologist. “Nowadays if you have a dumb idea you think you have to share it with everybody.”

As for what motivates a footballer to do something so repulsive, Bond argues it stems from their competitive natures, the influence of alcohol and the desire to be a risk-taker.

“I suspect there’s always that element of competitiveness – showing off among your mates and going one step further and one step better,” Bond said.

“I think that’s endemic in the football codes. But that might explain part of it. I don’t know that it necessarily explains all of it.

“To me it’s all wrapped up in this culture of ‘I am somebody special, I am a competitive-aggressive person, among my mates I am always going to go one better. If somebody dares me, it is on’.

“We know high risk-takers are involved in some of the footy codes. I suspect that will never change because that’s partly what convinces clubs to take them on – they take risks and put themselves on the edge and beat the odds.”

Jauncey added: “You get to people where they think they’re invincible, so they keep taking more risks. To that mix you add footballers on Mad Monday.

“The mentality has been around for a long time. You get males who get a bit of alcohol. What they keep doing is pushing the barriers.

“Obviously he pushed a barrier in a way he wished he hadn’t.”

The NRL and its clubs have tried everything to stop the damaging headlines of recent seasons.

Education only goes so far. Bond argues any example needs to start at the top.

“Someone has to make a stand and . . . say we can’t tell our players not to take alcohol if we’re relying on heaps of money from alcohol companies for our sport to survive,” he said. “You can’t have it both ways, I reckon.”


Source: The Australian (Australia), 06/11/10