Sports fans urged not to let booze ruin the result

15 / 10 / 2012

Welsh sports fans and players are being urged to think before they drink in Alcohol Concern Cymru’s latest campaign: ‘Don’t Let Booze Ruin The Result’.

Sports clubA survey carried out by the charity found that 78% of amateur sportspeople in Wales have played sport with a hangover, and 85% of Welsh sports fans say they drink every time they watch their favourite sport. The campaign is designed to get sports fans and players thinking about how excessive drinking can ruin a good day's sport.

Andrew Misell at Alcohol Concern Cymru said:

"Sport is big in Wales, and often goes hand in hand with big-time drinking. We want to challenge the idea that sport and alcohol have to go together - whether we're watching sport at the ground, in the pub, or on the sofa; or if we're taking part on the pitch or socialising with teammates afterwards. For many of us, cheering on our favourite team is often accompanied by a few drinks, but when you're watching an afternoon's sport it's easy to overdo it. As well as a sore head in the morning, too much booze can leave you struggling to remember great sporting moments, as well wishing you could forget your own drunken behaviour."

As well as encouraging fans to think about whether they'd enjoy the game more with less alcohol, Alcohol Concern is urging local sports clubs and players to pledge not to let booze ruin the result for themselves and the rest of the team.  Every local team or club that signs up to the campaign will receive a pack containing branded water bottles, plus posters and facts and tips on how to enjoy a drink without letting the side down. They will also be entered into a prize draw for a chance to win a coaching session for their team with a top Welsh coach.

Andrew Misell said:

"For those of us who play sport, alcohol can be a big part of the social life of our local club or team. Whilst enjoying a few drinks the night before a match or celebrating a win with teammates can feel like an ideal way to relax and unwind, overdoing it can ruin the result for you and your team, leaving you tired, dehydrated and performing well below your best."

Welsh athlete Jamie Baulch, said:

"It has become the norm to drink with friends during big sporting events, and many people have a few drinks to socialise with their teammates if they play sport. We've become used to seeing how alcohol and sport are paired together through marketing and club sponsorship. In reality sport and alcohol are not always a good match, and if you want to enjoy playing sport, low alcohol is often the key to high performance.

"I'm used to working hard to ensure that I'm as fit as possible to compete at the highest level. I'd say anyone who's serious about their sport needs to consider whether cutting down on drinking could drive up their game."

Paul Thorburn, ex-Wales rugby captain, said:

"Traditionally, there has always been a place for alcohol in sport, whether as a spectator who might drink before, during and after a game, or a player who celebrates a win after a competition. Sport has always been recognised as a great medium to interact and engage with people, and throughout my career in professional rugby where I have had many enjoyable years, I have seen the close association between alcohol and sport. We have to make sure however, that enjoyment in alcohol by both participants and spectators is in moderation, and does not break the boundaries of good social interaction, friendship, fun and health."

Dr Rhodri Martin, sports and exercise physician, said:

"It's widely known and accepted in elite sport that alcohol and sport are not a good combination. Drinking alcohol before, during and after playing sport is damaging and can really affect your performance. Even just a couple of drinks the night before can affect your ability to regulate your blood sugar levels - essential for optimal performance. Studies show your performance level can drop by up to 25% if you drink the night prior to exercise. Drinking alcohol immediately prior to sport can alter your awareness, balance and fine motor control. Alcohol also dehydrates you, which is another cause of fatigue and poor performance in sport.

"Historically there is a drinking culture following participating in certain sports, however at the elite level this custom has disappeared due to the appreciation of the significant delay it has on your recovery. The poor quality sleep and the sub-optimal utilisation of nutrients are mechanisms by which recovery is delayed. If you've been injured playing sport, drinking afterwards can be really dangerous and lead to complications in your recovery."

Dr Carwyn Jones from Cardiff School of Sport at Cardiff Metropolitan University, said:

"Despite the association between health and sport, binge drinking continues to be closely associated with both watching and playing sport. During the coverage of the Olympic Games journalists seemed as preoccupied with how the athletes were celebrating their successes, with constant references to drinking, hangovers and parties. Coverage of Andy Murray's victory in the US masters focused on his abstinence, with journalists hell-bent on getting him to drink, suggesting that such an occasion needs drink.

"Sport perpetuates the idea that alcohol is compulsory for celebrating, bonding, letting off steam and so on. What's more, young people often experience their first drink as a right of passage at the rugby or cricket club and many clubs use alcohol in initiation ceremonies."

If you would like to pledge not to let booze ruin the result, email us, visit the Drink Wise Wales website, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.