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Redskins Fumble with Hard Liquor

The Center for Science in the Public Interest criticized the Washington Redskins for the team’s exclusive promotional arrangement with Diageo, the world’s largest hard-liquor company.

Diageo’s multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract with the Redskins “marks the first time a spirits company has sponsored a National Football League team,” AdAge.com reported. “It’s believed to be the first time a spirits marketer has sponsored any pro sports team.”

The agreement gives the liquor company a TV presence through signage in the football stadium.

“It’s bad enough that pro sports is already so saturated with beer,” said George Hacker, director of CSPI’s alcohol policies project, in a press release. “But it’s really a major fumble for the Washington Redskins to make matters worse by peddling hard liquor in front of their young fans.”

Hacker said, “It’s not as if kids are going to make their high school football team—let alone the pros—by hitting the bottle.”

AdAge.com reported that Diageo is seeking arrangements with other stadiums and teams.

According to the Washington Times, the NFL is reviewing the deal between Diageo and the Redskins. “Distilled spirits are a prohibited sponsorship category for NFL teams,” the Times reported.

The NFL does support beer sponsorship. Anheuser-Busch Cos. and SABMiller’s Miller Brewing Co. already have a presence in all 32 NFL stadiums, AdAge.com reported.

Coors Brewing Co. became the official beer of the NFL with a contract worth nearly $300 million for five years, beginning this season.

In July, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., called on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold hearings on alcohol advertising and its impact on children.

“Children across our nation are bombarded by advertising messages encouraging them to drink alcohol,” she said, according to a press release from her office. “In 2000 alone, the alcohol industry spent approximately $1.4 billion on ads.”

Roybal-Allard said, “It is naive to think that this billion dollar advertising effort isn’t reaching our kids and influencing them. It is time for Congress to tackle this issue head-on and examine what effect alcohol ads have on children.”

“With only a few days left in this session of Congress, hearings are unlikely,” said Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics. “What would be most productive, however, is for Baptists and other people of faith to talk with their representatives when they return home about reinforcing the television network’s ban on liquor advertising.”

Below is the list of Republican and Democratic Congressmen, by congressional district, who serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Republicans: W.J. Tauzin (La.-3rd), Michael Bilirakis (Fla.-9th), Joe Barton (Texas-6th), Fred Upton (Mich.-6th), Cliff Stearns (Fla.-6th), Paul Gillmor (Ohio-5th), Jim Greenwood (Pa.-8th), Christopher Cox (Calif.-47th), Nathan Deal (Ga.-9th), Richard Burr (N.C.-5th), Edward Whitfield (Ky.-1st), Greg Ganske (Iowa-4th), Charles Norwood (Ga.-10th), Barbara Cubin (Wyo.-At-Large), John Shimkus (Ill.-20th), Heather Wilson (N.M.-1st), John Shadegg (Ariz.-4th), Charles Pickering (Miss.-3rd), Vito Fossella (N.Y.-13th), Roy Blunt (Mo.-7th), Thomas Davis (Va.-11th), Ed Bryant (Tenn.-7th), Robert Ehrlich (Md.-2nd), Steve Buyer (Ind.-5th), George Radanovich (Calif.-19th), Charles Bass (N.H.-2nd), Joseph Pitts (Pa.-16th), Mary Bono (Calif.-44th), Greg Walden (Ore.-2nd), Lee Terry (Neb.-2nd) and Ernest Lee Fletcher (Ky.-6th).

Democrats: John Dingell (Mich.-16th), Henry Waxman (Calif.-29th), Edward Markey (Mass.-7th), Ralph Hall (Texas-4th), Rick Boucher (Va.-9th), Edolphus Towns (N.Y.-10th), Frank Pallone (N.J.-6th), Sherrod Brown (Ohio-13th), Bart Gordon (Tenn.-6th), Peter Deutsch (Fla.-20th), Bobby Rush (Ill.-1st), Anna Eshoo (Calif.-14th), Bart Stupak (Mich.-1st), Eliot Engel (N.Y.-17th), Thomas Sawyer (Ohio.-14th), Albert Wynn (Md.-4th), Gene Green (Texas-29th) Karen McCarthy (Mo.-5th), Ted Strickland (Ohio-6th), Diana DeGette (Colo.-1st), Thomas Barrett (Wis.-5th), Bill Luther (Minn.-6th), Lois Capps (Calif.-22nd), Mike Doyle (Pa.-18th), Chris John (La.-7th) and Jane Harman (Calif.-36th).