The dad sitting next to me at my daughter’s soccer game was drinking bourbon and coke. Another dad had at least 3 beers—during the one-hour game. Our team won. We were all excited and rowdy. And then we drove our kids home.
How much is too much to drink at a child’s sporting event? I get it—we’re all tired and it’s been a long week and we finally get to sit in the cool sunshine and relax, for one hour. Our kids’ sports events pretty much become our social life, too. A drink sounds like a good plan.
Our children’s soccer league is trying to stop the consumption of all alcoholic beverages during sporting events. Those who make money from the beer sales are a bit perturbed. So are the parents. What’s wrong with a drink as long as parents are responsible? And most are.
It seemed a bit extreme, until someone pointed out that there is no alcohol consumption permitted in most college stadiums, either. That’s why people tailgate first. Twenty-one out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools sell beer to the public at their stadiums, according to research by Sports Business Journal. The NCAA is highly criticized for permitting alcohol advertisement at their events.
Sports and alcohol just seem to go together. Can you imagine the Super Bowl without beer ads? But do kids’ sports and alcohol go together? How much is too much?
I know an 11 year-old boy who plays select soccer and travels to other states to compete. As the parents got to know each other better, the sidelines became a cliquey drinking club. A few parents became loud and aggressive, the more they drank. The coach brought a cooler of beer on the team bus, while chaperoning the boys. Some parents made sure that all team dinners were at restaurants that sold adult beverages. One concerned parent volunteered to be an extra chaperone on the bus—and vowed not to drink on the bus. The drinking parents got annoyed at him. OK, this is too much.
We need to set a good example for our kids regarding alcohol use. And we need to limit their exposure to alcohol advertising, especially at family-oriented sports events. Consistent research has shown that media exposure can make children and adolescents more likely to experiment with alcohol. I think this means no alcohol sales or advertising at our kids sports events.
Yes, I know it stinks. But one hour without a beer is a small price to pay to keep our kids safe.