Signs We Are Near The End Of Civilization: Wisconsin Bans Beer Ads During Football Games

29 08 2009
I'm fairly sure this guy knows what beer is.

I'm fairly sure this guy knows what beer is.

The University of Wisconsin, the epicenter of higher learning in the same state that brought you tail-gating in sub-zero weather drinking some sort of homemade concoction from a plastic jug, has determined that exposure to alcohol is not healthy for their legions of fans. So, in their higher wisdom, they have discontinued beer ads during broadcasts of Badger sports.

MADISON — Wisconsin football fans listening to games on the radio this fall will hear few, if any, beer ads for the first time in years. The university has ended longstanding sponsorship agreements with Miller, Coors and Anheuser-Busch for advertising during Badgers sports broadcasts. The deals, which brought the university about $425,000 per year, were not renewed after a campus committee recommended doing away with them as part of its fight against binge drinking.

Chancellor Biddy Martin recently accepted the recommendation, which the athletics department had appealed for months, said Vince Sweeney, vice chancellor for university relations. 

So, Biddy, while your intentions might be admirable, this is a classic case of what the military usually refers to “the wrong execution of the right idea.” Here’s the problem: it’s pretty obvious all those fans have already heard of beer. It’s not like simply removing the beer ads spewing from the pickup truck AM radio or the old Curtis-Mathes TV with a coat-hanger antenna sticking out of it will delete the mellifluous brew from the Badger memory banks. Hell, in Wisconsin, the rivers actually flow with Leinenkugel.

Now, some may call it admirable to value the health and well-being of the fan base; rather electing to forego almost a half a million dollars in revenue for the athletic department. Some may call it bold to knowingly take on such a disadvantage, considering Wisconsin must compete with conference leviathans like Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State and their gorgon-like appetites for cash.

It hurts the athletic department financially but they are stepping up and taking one for the team,” Sweeney said.

What utter fucking stupidity.

Fighting binge drinking in Wisconsin by eliminating beer ads is like shooting out all the light bulbs to make the sun go down. These are the same Wisconsinites who happily risk becoming a Cheese-sicle outside Lambeau field in December, staving off arctic temperatures using Old Milwaukee as anti-freeze. These are the same Wisconsinites that used to celebrate home runs at Milwaukee County Stadium by watching Bernie Brewer slide into a 500-gallon vat of beer (the practice was discontinued because the amount of beer needed to fill the vat meant two Wisconsinites had to suffer a Brewers’ game sober).  These are the same Wisconsinites who lead the nation in binge drinking. Therefore, it is pretty safe to assume most of your fan base a) already knows about beer, b) knows which kind they like, and c) knows where they can get it.

alcohol consumption by state

Note that five of the top ten are Big Ten states. Like you are surprised.

If that weren’t enough, the very construct of the approach is flawed. While the University has specifically prohibited beer ads on its’ statewide network during football, men’s and women’s basketball and hockey broadcasts, apparently it won’t have the effect of eliminating the “problem” ads entirely.

Sweeney cautioned that fans may still hear the occasional beer ad during games if local stations sell the few spots they control to brewers. 

Of course, you know the local stations will sell these ads at an inflated rate, since brewers and football fans enjoy the most symbiotic of relationships; they need each other more than Brett Favre starves for attention. Not to mention, the demand will be increased by the university’s action, which in turn jacks up the cost of the ad. Now for the best part: While the policy that is intended to fight binge drinking has cost the Badger athletic department close to half a million dollars by eliminating not entirely eliminating beer ads during game broadcasts and coaches’ television interview shows, it will continue to allow brewers to host tailgating tents at Camp Randall stadium before football games. 

Let me get this straight – we have a major American university wanting to limit the exposure brewers get by advertising during university sporting events, but will allow those same brewers to interact face-to-face with fans on its very own property.

The policy also prohibits beer ads during coaches’ television interview shows and in game programs but would allow beer companies to continue hosting tailgating tents before football games.

When an institution charged with the production of the leaders of the future – those who will discover technologies and inventions to better humankind – engages in this level of stupidity, how does one not weep for the future of this country?

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