The Science Daily website recently discussed this paper which was published in the Drug and Alcohol Review.
Lead researcher Dr Kerry O'Brien, a lecturer in Manchester's School of Psychological Sciences said there is much stronger evidence for a relationship between alcohol-industry sponsorship, advertising and marketing within sport and hazardous drinking among young people than there is for the influence of reporting of actual behaviour of sports stars, when they have been drinking.
Dr O'Brien continued: "It is time that sport administrators consider their own social responsibilities when weighing up the costs and benefits of using their sports and sport stars to market alcohol on behalf of the alcohol industry."
Not surprisingly, stories of athletes themselves engaged in stupid and dangerous behaviour from the over indulgence of alcohol did not show up on the radar as a role model negative.
Dr O'Brien noted: "Our research shows that young people, both sporting participants and non-sporting participants, don't appear to be influenced by the drinking habits of high-profile sports people as depicted in the mass media."
Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson, who is also cricket chaplain, says this secondary result from the research is in line with every thing he's heard and read.
M V Tronson makes the point that the public is sick and tired of hearing about this or that athlete doing something quite silly and stupid when under the influence of alcohol. He said the public reads and hears of this loutish behaviour in almost any given week.
The real issue at hand is not what an athlete does when under the influence of alcohol, as the society recognises that one does things out of character with a few drinks under your belt, but what an athlete does when sober.
Herein lies the true issue of the research. The classic recent example is Tiger Woods, when sober, went philandering. That was seen as being inexcusable.
When sober, athletes have a huge draw card as the research illustrates as the advertisers and sponsors are fully aware. Many charities including M V Tronson's Well-Being Australia "Country Town Tours" outreaches, take athletes and coaches because they are draw cards.
The research, according to M V Tronson, affirms two things. First, athletes like anyone else, when they get under the influence of alcohol get up to mischief. Second, athletes are held to higher account when sober as illustrated by the advertisers, they are draw cards.
So, as this research indicates, and as Mark Tronson has observed, if those politicians and sports administrators really have the welfare of our youth at heart, and if they really wish to reduce the morbidity and mortality caused by excessive (and sometimes under-age) drinking, they should look to their current alcohol advertising policies just as hard as they have looked to advertising of cigarettes in the past twenty years.