McDonald's running my kids sports? McNoWay!

The Parents’ Jury believes there is no place in children’s sport for fast food sponsorship. Angela recently wrote for Essential Kids on the issue and it generated a great deal of response in their forum. Take a read and tell us your thoughts…

My husband and I uprooted our family last year, moving from Ireland to the sunnier climes of Melbourne. I was excited for any number of reasons, but one was that the kids would have the chance to spend time outdoors and get into more sports. And it’s been great; especially watching my Irish son grappling with the intricacies of cricket and my daughter has made loads of new friends by donning a bib to play netball.

There is one thing I’ve noticed. What is it with fast food and sport? I’ve been following the preparations for the Olympics in London and the irony that McDonald’s and Coca Cola are major sponsors of the biggest sporting event in the world isn’t lost on me.     

However, I’m not necessarily talking about sponsorship of major sporting events. I have a major problem with fast food sponsorship of community sports. A few days ago, I noticed that McDonald’s has launched into junior footy. Are you serious? I don’t care how concerned McDonald’s are about grass-roots sports, the only thing my kids’ think when they see the Golden Arches is what burger and fries combo they want me to buy them, not kicking a footy around!

To me, it’s a blatant attempt to market directly to children and I don’t like it. I don’t like the branding, I don’t like the websites and I particularly detest the fast food vouchers handed out as prizes.

It’s not that I can’t say no. As a parent with thirteen years experience, the word has been heavily utilised! However, I do believe it’s getting tougher for us when this kind of covert marketing slips under the radar. I especially dislike that, in my kids’ minds, there will be an inevitable link between sports and junk food.

I understand many junior sporting programs are suffering from lack of funds and sponsorship dollars help them stay afloat. However, 71% of adults think takeaway food companies should be restricted or stopped from sponsoring children’s sport. It’s also clear that sponsoring junior sport has a big influence on what kids ask their parents to buy for them.

A report on food and drink sponsorship of sporting clubs has suggested the creation of an independent Sport Sponsorship Fund to which companies could contribute. The fund would distribute the money, with the aim of minimising unhealthy sponsorship promotion and advertising at individual clubs. Works for me!

Don’t get me wrong. I believe I’m responsible for my children’s health, but it would be great if I wasn’t being undermined, especially when I’m trying my best to keep them healthy and active through playing sports.

****UPDATE****  We received a further example from a concerned parent, which was also reported in the media. TPJ will be working on this issue, so please send us anything that concerns you.

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