SF Giants: Pro Athletes or Ambassadors of Alcohol-Related Bad Behavior?

Sergio Romo Caught Restraining Girlfriend Just Hours After Locker Room Binge Celebration

By Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director / CEO, Alcohol Justice

Romo Chugging Beer
Professional athletes, deeply submerged in the cultural norm that is alcohol in sports, are both beneficiaries and victims of Big Alcohol’s investment. Inflated salaries and lucrative endorsement contracts mask the normalization of unhealthy drinking behaviors, in the locker rooms, and just off the fields. They are perversely glamorized and sensationalized. The take-away message for young fans is simple: celebrating your victories or easing the pain of defeat is best done with booze in both hands.

The most recent well-reported and inappropriate display of locker room excess followed the NL Pennant win. San Francisco Giant pitcher phenom, Madison Bumgarner, chugged four cans of Bud Light at once in the well-televised celebration late Thursday night. It was followed by SF Giant Sergio Romo’s abusive behavior towards his girlfriend outside a bar on Friday at 2:00 A.M. Romo’s allegedly alcohol-fueled domestic violence and disrespect to the SFPD was only reported on the following Monday.

Sergio Romo, a spokesperson for Hennessy cognac, seems to have dodged a bullet when his incident was quickly swept under the MLB rug of invisibility and behind the SFPD cloak of “an abundance of caution.” This was done, no doubt, to spare the league from the kind of firestorm of negative PR that reigned down on the NFL over recent highly publicized incidents of player involved DUIs and alcohol-related violence against women.The fact that Romo was not hauled in to the station eerily reminds me of the Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher who police let go drunk at 4 A.M. (caught on tape also) and then went in to kill his baby’s mother and then himself. Police in SF apparently also give a pass to athletes.

It’s time for professional sports to take a major step back from its codependent relationship with Big Alcohol. While crazy lucrative for the companies involved it is intrinsically toxic to players and fans alike, especially underage youth who see their newfound heroes guzzling bubbles, suds and spirits on TV. It’s time for Sergio to focus on pitching baseballs instead of booze (P.S. Full disclosure, I love the guy for his “I Just Look Illegal T-Shirt” and I watched the whole game with my kids).

Big Alcohol has an unquenchable thirst for new consumers and pours its biggest promo bucks into professional sports because that’s where the returns are the greatest. The industry’s egregious leader – Anheuser-Busch InBev – at half-a-billion dollars a year in ads, sponsorships, and celebrity endorsements, casts the widest net. Not only does it prompt mega sales of marginal product, but it catches 20-30 million underage youth, searing beer brands into their developing brains, and encouraging often harm-producing early consumption of alcohol.

Baseball, please don’t act like football. Grow up and lose the booze and the domestic violence. Stop the locker room champagne and Bud Light celebrations.