A new sports television network operated by the Big Ten athletic conference and Fox Cable Networks won’t have ads for beer or other alcoholic beverages—a historic move praised by the Campaign for Alcohol-Free Sports TV. That campaign, a grassroots movement spearheaded by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and backed by top health groups and coaching legends, has been calling on the National Collegiate Athletic Association and its member conferences and schools not to expose its young fans to beer ads on televised games.
“This landmark deal recognizes that the reputations of universities and the values of sports are fundamentally incompatible with alcohol marketing to young people,” said George A. Hacker, director of CSPI’s Alcohol Policies Project. “It also proves that alcohol revenue isn’t necessary to run a profitable sports television venture. The Big Ten, its commissioner Jim Delany, and Fox deserve a great deal of credit for this pioneering move.”
Big Ten member Ohio State University—under the leadership of President Karen Holbrook and then-Athletic Director Andy Geiger—was the first university to endorse the Campaign’s pledge to work for an end to alcohol ads on college sports broadcasts. Northwestern University and the University of Minnesota were also among early signers. To date, 246 schools in the NCAA—nearly a quarter of member schools—and the Ivy League and Big South athletic conferences have endorsed the “College Commitment” to eliminate alcohol advertising on televised college sports.
“Other conferences and the NCAA itself should similarly distance themselves from alcohol marketers’ desires to tap underage audiences,” said Hacker. “It’s hard to see how university-sanctioned beer ads on sportscasts mesh with increasingly necessary campus campaigns to prevent and reduce underage and excessive student drinking.”
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