Baseball Australia bans alcohol sponsorship, urges others to follow

Australia’s national baseball federation has become the country’s first sports body to ban alcohol advertising and sponsorship in all junior and national team competitions.

Known as Baseball Australia, the federation has also become the first national sporting code to partner with Australia’s ‘End Alcohol Advertising in Sport’ (EAAiS) campaign, in a bid to create a healthier and more family-friendly environment around the sport.

The three-year partnership will see the EEAiS campaign promoted nationally at Little League games and on Baseball Australia’s digital and social media platforms, with materials distributed to baseball clubs and members throughout Australia.

In a press statement, Baseball Australia said that it had previously turned down a “lucrative” sponsorship deal worth close to six figures with a well-known, non-domestic alcohol brand.

Michael Thorn, spokesman for EAAiS and chief executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), said: “Baseball Australia has today shown leadership that is sadly lacking in too many of our national sporting codes.

“Sport can and should be a powerful force for good. Rather than simply condemning player transgressions, sporting codes must show leadership, and that starts with walking away from alcohol advertising dollars, as Baseball Australia is doing.”

Baseball Australia’s decision does not extend to the eight independently-owned and operated Australian Baseball League teams competing in the professional domestic competition.

The federation, however, has set a precedent which it hopes others, such as the National Rugby League – notorious for its players’ marauding drunken antics during off-season – to follow.

Kamara Buchanan, communications officer, campaigns, at FARE, said: “They need to step up and lead by example, as Baseball Australia has done. They should be setting the right values from an administration level and send the right message to their professional players, right down to the junior leagues.

“It’s quite hypocritical that they could come out and condemn their players, yet they are quite happy to clad them head to toe in alcohol advertising.”

The move comes as Australia’s national baseball team prepares for Tokyo 2020, where it will be in contention for a medal.