Alcohol and sport: “drinking culture” affects youth health

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Building the beer tower at Lord's during England vs Sri Lanka.
Photo: Wendie Norris

We went to Lord’s cricket ground to see England play Sri Lanka recently [14/6/14]. In our Lower Compton stand, the cricket was incidental to the main sport of drinking & talking. When did cricket at Lord’s get like this? Apparently at least since 2011 according to The Guardian’s Barney Ronay:  Sozzled – how English cricket got lost in drink

Our enjoyment was marred by the constant hubbub and noise: you could not hear bat on ball.

A group of young men in front of us, with one prime instigator (who somehow never got caught), in great good humour started a “feed the snake”… plastic beer cups were collected into one stack or beer tower and passed through the stand to be added to, while particpants shouted “feed the snake”. Great cheers would start up from the crowded stand – nothing to do with what was happening on the pitch – but because of these precarious beer towers.  For me, it was amusing only the once: repetitions were distracting and required constant security intervention.

What hit me from the beer towers was how many beers our stand had clearly been through between 11am and 2pm. Aided no doubt by the cardboard drinks holders enabling people to carry at least four pints in one hand. And not just beer… 4 lads behind us went through 3 bottles of champagne in the afternoon’s play.

Who was in the stand? All ages, but our stand was particularly full of young people (mostly lads) in their mid-twenties, good humouredly drinking themselves silly but not aggressive. Just silly enough to lose a sense of proportion and consideration for others in the stand.

Most of the drink on the day was bought at the venue, and there was plenty of advertising sponsorship linked to alcohol. The UK government’s minimum pricing for different drinks (April 6, 2014) to stop extreme discounting of alcohol in England and Wales, wouldn’t have helped at Lords.

Back at work I decided to investigate the health facts behind the “drinking culture” amongst young people and in particular young sports fans.

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Not much fun being Roma

  
3774606072_dfd3cdf013copyright: Adam Jones PhD

It's always struck me as ironic that a number of Hollywood film stars are happy to be credited with being 1/4  (1/8, 1/16th…) Native American but its not so positive to be more full-blooded Native American,  in terms of your social status, health or life opportunities in the US.

And if you substituted gypsy or Roma or “traveller” (a UK term) into those same actors’ ethnic mix, you wouldn’t even get claims for 1/8.

AS part of its fight for human rights, the Anne Frank museum, Amsterdam, which I visited 2 weeks ago, featured the plight of Roma in Hungary who are being pressured by Far Right groups, in their interactive debate for visitors. Daily, visitors are presented with current TV news items, linked to human rights, and asked to vote yes or no to a proposition.

I was in Amsterdam to attend EUPHA 2010. A speaker, Daniela Bobokova, presenting in the Health Inequalities session, dispelled thoroughly another preconceived idea about Roma…that they are drunks. “In Central Europe, it is thought that Roma drink more, smoke more and generally have more risky behaviour”, she said. Her talk focussed on binge drinking, comparing Roma and non-Roma adolescents in Slovak Republic, a country where Roma make up 7% of the population.

 

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