Friday, January 28, 2005

Nader vs. Sports

Ralph Nader has always been a lightning rod for controversy and attention and indeed some people have used that to criticize him for being an attention seeker or for being obsessed with getting his name in the news. This has obviously continued to the present day as he still featured prominently in the last election as many democrats/liberals/progressives struggled with the dilemma of whether it was more important to vote for the candidate they liked the best or against the candidate they liked the least. One thing that has always struck me about him, however, is that in most cases he is making the moral, responsbile argument on behalf of people. Those seeking morality in this country and in our government would do well to kick the money changers out of the temple and elect someone whose values run deeper than the endless repitition of the words "freedom" and "liberty" as if the words themselves could do anything other than placate the flag-loving, magnetic-ribbon-buying masses.

Something I didn't know about Nader was that he had formed an organization called the League of Fans, which describes itself as: "a sports reform project working to improve sports by increasing awareness of the sports industry's relationship to society, exposing irresponsible business practices, ensuring accountability to fans, and encouraging the industry to contribute to societal well-being." The group takes aim at everything from the corporate welfare of stadium building to performance enhancing drugs to the gay community and sports to one of my own personal hooby horses, the BCS. Somehow I had never come across this before, but it looks like an organization that is more eminently supportable than the lame-os who bitch about salaries being too high. Just today, Nader has posted an article about the over-commercialization of the Super Bowl and its potential detrimental effect on youth (excerpted below). Check out the site and sign up for the e-mail alerts and maybe we'll start to see some changes that will make being a sports fan less of a conflict of interest to those with a conscience. And a big thanks to Jake for the tip.

Those worried that a nationally televised breast is a threat to their children’s well-being should be especially infuriated by the prominent place alcohol advertising has in Super Bowl broadcasts. The reduction of cognitive faculties from excessive drinking increases the likelihood of unprotected sex, which then increases the risk of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Alcohol-related sexual assault and date rape on college campuses are also consequences of excessive and underage drinking.


But the Super Bowl blitz on children’s health doesn’t stop with alcohol. The junk food corporation PepsiCo will be targeting youngsters watching the Super Bowl with aggressive advertising for its Pepsi-Cola sweetened soft drinks and Frito-Lay processed snack foods which are predominately high in calories and low in nutrition. Such items have become unhealthy staples in the daily diets of many young people, increasing the likelihood for the occurrence of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

.....PepsiCo pays millions of dollars for exclusive marketing rights in schools and other locations frequented by adolescents, undermining parents' efforts to provide healthful diets for their children. Another NFL event, the “Pepsi NFL Punt, Pass and Kick,” allows PepsiCo to market directly to more than four million boys and girls (age 8-15) each year.

Not to be outdone, the fast food chain McDonald’s will push its unhealthy junk food with Super Bowl ads as well. Experts at targeting children, McDonald’s uses some of the most beloved characters (Nemo, Tarzan, Winnie-the-Pooh, 101 Dalmatians, Furby, Beanie Babies, etc.), collectible toys and gimmicks to peddle its high-calorie, low-nutrition Happy Meals. The rise of McDonald’s and other fast junk food chains has reshaped the diets of kids, who are encouraged to nag their parents, and has paralleled the boom in childhood obesity.


Blogger Listmaker said...

hey, thanks for this post. when jim was getting all pissy at me about how nader doesn't do anything except ruin it for the democrats every 4 years, my response was that i'm sure he does plenty, but the media doesn't cover it.

then i was too lazy to check it out myself. so i'm glad that nader is actually doing something. woo hoo! and i'm all geared up to reenact our big fight again in 2008!

January 28, 2005 at 2:22 PM  

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