Alcohol Doesn’t “Cause” Violence

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This one is sticking in my craw, and would be turning me to violence except for the fact that I’m not a terribly violent person, even when I drink. But to hear Alcohol Justice, and many others recently, you’d think that one sip of beer turns every person into a homicidal maniac. I don’t know how much more obvious this could be, but alcohol doesn’t cause violence. It’s not the primary catalyst of domestic violence. It may exacerbate it, it may intensify it, it may even be used as an excuse for it, but if you remove alcohol from a dysfunctional relationship, the violence doesn’t magically disappear. The underlying causes of domestic violence, and all violent behavior, is more complicated. I grew up with an alcoholic, psychotic, and frequently violent stepfather, but the issues that led to his outbursts were not caused by the alcohol he consumed. He often used that as his excuse, and as a way for society to overlook the root causes, because during periods of time when he wasn’t drinking, his violent tendencies were undiminished.

So watching the news regarding the NFL recently, I’m amazed that people are trying to blame alcohol. Not surprisingly, the prohibitionists at Alcohol Justice are leading the charge, since they’ll use any excuse to promote their agenda. You just have to see their recent and frequent use of Robin Williams’ image in numerous tweets, as if he was tacitly endorsing them or prohibition, to know how far they’ll go. Tellingly, this began shortly after his death, when he no longer could agree to be their spokesperson or have a say in how his image or story was used. So naturally if the NFL is having problems, it must be the fault of alcohol.

In their latest press release, Alcohol Justice Says Roger Goodell and Anheuser-Busch InBev Blame Personal Conduct, Ignore Alcohol Policies and Sponsorship, they’re at it again.

The latest brouhaha with the NFL has left me with mixed feelings. I think John Oliver hit the nail on the head when he recently said that the NFL was America’s FIFA, in terms of corruption and dysfunction. In a lengthy segment during the World Cup earlier this year, he detailed all that is wrong with FIFA, but ended with the admission that he was still really excited to watch the soccer during the tournament.

And that’s how I feel about the NFL. There’s so much I hate about them — from their non-profit status, the denial of the long term effects of concussions, the way they treat the referees and cheerleaders, how the wealthy owners manipulate communities to get new stadiums and economic concessions, thumbing their nose at those same communities when they don’t get what they want, like petulant children, even as they get tax breaks while the cities crumble into economic ruin. And yet…. And yet I still look forward to football season, watching the games on Sunday with my son and cheering on my favorite team (the Green Bay Packers, who, I like to point out, is the only major sports team owned by the community, a loophole the NFL closed the moment after the Packers incorporated in 1950).

But now there’s this latest spate of incidents of violent behavior off the field giving the league a black eye and tarnishing their image. This is both for the behavior of the players and for the way the league is, or more correctly isn’t, dealing with these issues. Most commenters and pundits and people paying attention believe during his tenure beginning in 2006, commissioner Roger Goddell is at least partially, if not mostly, responsible. And yet he apparently continues to have the support of all the team owners, as he said during the travesty of a press conference he held recently, during which by all accounts he did more harm than good. That alone, tells us quite a bit about how out-of-touch with their fans the league really is, but then we’ve seen that over and over again during the many scandals in recent years.

What I’m truly amazed at, is how many people seem surprised that professional football players are having trouble controlling their anger and violence. They’re trained to be violent as one of the main requirements of their job. They’re no different than professional fighters, who are taught to be aggressive from Pop Warner football, high school and college football programs, so that by the time a player reaches the professional ranks of the NFL, they’re a finally tuned machine of hitting, tackling, and other skills necessary to succeed in a game that celebrates violent behavior. It’s modern gladiatorial sport, although happily no one dies at the end or gets eaten by lions.

The real question is why anyone would think they wouldn’t become violent people in the process, or find difficulty switching between their work life and their home life? Everybody brings their work home with them, at least a little. It’s the same shock and surprise that people express every time a soldier comes home from the war and commits some violent act. How could he? The pundits wonder aloud. How could he not? He was trained to meet violence with violence, taught to engage the enemy, to kill or be killed. And yet we think a soldier should be able to turn off that like a switch when he’s no longer on the front lines. I’ve never been in a combat situation — luckily, my time in the military was relatively peaceful — but we know that war changes people. We’ve known it for centuries, and since World War I have studied it more closely and found all sorts of psychological problems created by the sacrifice many veterans make by going into battle on our behalf. But knowing that, we do precious little help them adjust back into civilian life or deal with the changes that being in war brings to their personality.

So whether the battle is in some war torn region of the world or on a 100-yard field of grass, we’ve bred people to be aggressive and then asked them to walk off those fields and turn off that aggression and be gentle, caring societal role models for the children. What could go wrong? I’m sure it’s partly because I”m getting older, but the world seems more violent today than it did when I was younger. It just seems that today it’s more taken for granted in our society, and accepted. And issues with acts of violence by NFL players off the field is nothing new, but doesn’t it seem like it’s intensified in recent years? More arrests, and for more and more serious crimes is how it seems to me, at least. Were there any football players accused of murder in the 1960s? I don’t remember any. It seems like that would have been a big deal back then.

So we’ve created a class of individuals, incredibly well-paid — our modern gladiators — and as the amount of money at stake is growing larger and larger, we’re finding that they can’t be controlled and can’t be expected to meet the responsibilities of the morals clause of their contracts, that compels them to act in a certain way to protect the image of themselves, their team and the league in way that they can still be considered role models to children and which allows the league to sell a product that’s very, very profitable. And all the while demanding them to be aggressive, violent players during their game each week.

But now Alcohol Justice has to take this situation and blame it all on alcohol. In the subtitle to their press release, the “Watchdog demands end to alcohol industry’s toxic relationship with NFL, teams and big game advertising.” It’s the same dead horse they been beating for years, and the same one that most prohibitionist organizations have been similarly beating since 1933, when Prohibition was repealed. Limiting alcohol advertising as dangerous was the very first tactic undertaken by the temperance movement when they realized prohibition had failed. But here we go again.

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They jump right in with their own agenda. “The NFL’s Roger Goodell has yet to show any understanding that alcohol use by players is a major cause of domestic violence, child abuse, arrests and even suicide and homicide. Though he has shown progress in recognizing that domestic violence is a serious problem, he and the sport’s biggest sponsor — Anheuser-Busch InBev — continue to blame individual behavior as the cause. What they continue to ignore is the influence of the complete saturation of the NFL with alcohol sponsorships of teams, stadium advertising, tailgating, beverage sales and TV broadcast of games, especially the big one in February.”

What I can’t for the life of me understand is why Alcohol Justice is so utterly against “individual behavior.” Why are prohibitionists so convinced that people should not be responsible for their own actions. Except instead they’d prefer to blame alcohol, as if without it no violence would ever take place, as if people don’t have any control over their actions, as if alcohol makes people do things against their nature. It’s baffling. Consider the KISS principle — keep it simple, stupid. Is it more likely that people are complicated, that violent behavior has many, many causes and like all human experience cannot be generalized so easily — or — does one drop of alcohol turn every person into a violent monster? Yet that’s the position taken by Alcohol Justice and other similar groups, especially as they increasingly take the position that no amount of alcohol is “acceptable,” or “safe.” It’s heroin to them; no difference. As dangerous, as addictive, as sinful, as bad for society, like the temperance of old where all roads led to ruin, every indulgence led to another one, and only abstinent perfection was the proper way to live.

Maybe the question should be why do they not blame individual behavior? Why is it acceptable to blame alcohol for all of society’s problems, but not the people who abuse it? How does that make any sense? Why can’t they bring themselves to ask, or insist, that people take responsibility for their actions? It should again be obvious that millions of people drink, most moderately, but even a few immoderately, without turning violent. That fact alone should persuade a reasonable person that alcohol won’t make everyone who drinks it turn violent.

Curiously, AJ also points to a statement by a well-known sociologist, Harry Edwards, who’s been a staff consultant to the San Francisco 49ers, among other sports teams. Apparently shorty after Goddell became commissioner in 2006, Edwards “warned him that players’ personal conduct would become the defining issue of his tenure.” That’s “players’ personal conduct,” not alcohol. And yet now in a San Francisco Chronicle article he’s “pointed to alcohol as the leading factor.” That’s all he says, though. The quote in AJ’s press release where he says this is based on his “experience,” not any actual evidence or statistics, is nowhere to be found in the article, but even so is contradictory and fairly absurd.

So when AJ says: “Anheuser-Busch InBev distanced itself from Rodger Goodell and the NFL on Tuesday, September 17, 2014 with a hypocritical statement of concern over “…the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own culture and moral code,” I can’t help but think they’re the ones being hypocritical, which is not terribly uncommon for them. Can they really think that ABI wants their customers beating one another? That they’re somehow in favor of domestic violence? I’m willing to bet that privately they don’t believe anyone in the alcohol industry has a “moral code,” given the way they usually characterize us. It never seems to occur to prohibitionists that we have families, whom we love, too. So why should it surprise anyone that ABI, or any of the other NFL sponsors who are questioning the handling of recent incidents, such as P&G, Radisson and Nike, would do so? Most are taking a wait and see approach, primarily because there’s so much money at stake. You’d think that ABI’s statement would be applauded for putting morals ahead of money, unlike most of the NFL’s sponsors, but because they make alcohol, instead Alcohol Justice accuses them of being hypocritical.

The entire statement was very short, but to the point:

We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season. We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.

But who could disagree with that? I feel the same way about the NFL’s handling of this, don’t you? Only I can’t share my “concerns and expectations with the league,” and even if I could, they wouldn’t listen, as they’ve shown time and time again they don’t really care what their fans think. Just ask the refs, or the cheerleaders, or the many former players with head trauma and brain problems. But ABI can get the league to listen, so maybe we should applaud their efforts instead of belittling them. If their doing this is so counterintuitive, as many have thoughtlessly commented, then shouldn’t that show just how important an issue it is? Instead of adopting this pointless air of mock surprise, in effect characterizing ABI as an unfeeling, amoral monster (and by extension all of the rest of us in the beer world) then doesn’t this disprove the very point they think they’re making? Maybe it should make prohibitionists rethink their view of alcohol companies. Of course when they donated water for earthquake relief, all they did was complain, as they do no matter what we do. But maybe being one of the few NFL sponsors doing the right thing is just the right thing to do?

But instead they continue to, in a sense, change the subject and blame domestic violence on alcohol ads during games and at stadiums. If it weren’t for the advertising, everyone would stop drinking, just as nobody smokes anymore now that they’ve banned tobacco advertising. And in any event, alcohol consumption in the U.S. is declining, a fact conveniently ignored by prohibitionists while spreading this kind of propaganda. No matter, AJ’s director of public affairs (whatever that means), Michael Scippa has this to say. “To deny any responsibility in the wake of the NFL’s problems, or the massive alcohol-related harms their products cause to the public, is just ludicrous.” To me what’s ludicrous is to take a very real problem — domestic violence, violent behavior of any kind and a history of sweeping it under the rug and not dealing with it because of the money involved — and instead using it to promote their anti-alcohol agenda. What most people have been discussing here is the violence, the culture that fosters and supports it, and how our society as a whole does not treat seriously violence against women, and instead turned it into another alcohol bashing session. Nobody brought up alcohol at all, not until they saw their opening when ABI had the audacity to be one of the few courageous sponsors to ask the NFL to do better, to use their clout for a good cause. That should be celebrated, but as usual, let no good deed unpunished. As I mentioned, Alcohol Justice also complained mightily when ABI canned water and sent it to earthquake-ravaged Haiti a few years ago, taking issue with them putting their logo and name on the cans. I’ve never seen an organization so committed to finding fault with absolutely everything another organization does. It’s remarkable, really, how blindingly absolute their hatred is.

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And I just knew they’d bring this up.

Even the Daily Show, disturbingly infused with alcohol advertising of its own, which many youth watch, exposed the irony of AB InBev’s statement. Isn’t AB InBev’s chief “culture and moral code” to sell more beer for fans to consume at stadiums, tailgating parties, sports bars and at their homes? And then they solely place blame on players if they are abusive and destructive while under the influence?

I, too, winced to hear Jon Stewart (especially because I’m usually such a big fan of the Daily Show) refer to alcohol as “maybe one of the only substances that is proven scientifically to increase the likelihood of domestic abuse.” Again, it won’t make someone become violent unless they also have that in their nature. We all know that bad drunk who has a problem, but that’s not everyone, and it’s not even most people. Most of us can have a few drinks and not beat our wives or children. But there’s no “scientifically proven” causation. In fact, the research suggests that alcohol abuse is not a direct cause of domestic violence, but that it can exacerbate situations, as I said earlier. Even the World Health Organization, which is generally anti-alcohol, admits that violence is usually the result of “the harmful use of alcohol,” which is very different from the way most of us consume our beer.

But who exactly is “solely plac[ing] blame on players if they are abusive and destructive while under the influence?” I haven’t heard that one. Have you? What I’m hearing is AJ solely placing the blame on alcohol and not blaming individual players for their actions, in fact mocking the idea that they should take personal responsibility for their violent behavior. This is the modern version of the devil made them do it. But letting people blame the alcohol, in fact insisting on it as AJ is doing, does more harm because it’s removing the responsibility for one’s actions. Saying we can’t blame individual behavior allows it to continue, allows it to be used as an excuse for the violence, in effect allowing a person to say I couldn’t help myself, I’d been drinking. Which is utter bullshit. Most of us can drink a little, or even a lot, and it never once occurs to us to hit somebody, to do anything violent whatsoever. So if you’re saying you can’t, then yeah, you’ve got problems. You definitely should not be drinking. But don’t presume that your problem is my problem, or everyone else’s problem.

Scary statistics follow, the same propaganda they’re usually peddling. Then this statement from AJ’s sheriff, and chief hypocrite, Bruce Lee Livingston. “AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito can declare all day long that the problem is the NFL’s, but both the NFL and the beer barons need to back away from advertising and team sponsorships.” This is pure substance-free propaganda, and it’s not actually doing anything useful. First of all, AJ is the only one blaming the violence on the advertising of alcohol during games and team or league sponsorships, as if that’s what led these players to become violent. That is the issue here, that NFL players are being violent off the field, and the NFL is not dealing with it. Period. It should not be an opportunity to pile on your agenda.

But even so, they’re worried about kids seeing alcohol advertising. I’m more worried about kids being beaten and abused. Watching Sean Fucking Hannity defending beating kids while talking about how his Dad hit him with a belt, all the while insisting he’s not in therapy was painful. It should have been obvious to everyone seeing that, that although maybe he didn’t go to a therapist, perhaps he really should. And now; right away. But the number of people and pundits defending the physical abuse of children as an acceptable form of discipline was almost as unsettling as the abuse itself. That so many think that it was alright to raise welts on a four-year old because he wasn’t listening and because that’s what your Dad did was appalling, especially when you realize that studies consistently show that discipling children by physical force — spanking, hitting with a belt, etc. — are not only ineffective but actually lead to greater problems later in life. It’s sad to see how unevolved we are on this subject. The United Nations, in 1989, adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which, among other things forbids abusing children, which would include spanking and other physical discipline. Every member nation in the world ratified the convention, agreeing to abide by its tenets, all except two, that is, which to this day have not ratified it. Those would be Somalia and the United States. We apparently won’t ratify it because we want to keep our precious right to put a child to death, whereas the convention forbids capital punishment for children. But I’m amazed how many people here still seem to think spanking, or worse, is actually effective or, at least, harmless. To me, this is a far greater problem to be focusing on then whether kids see an ad for alcohol.

And second of all, Brito never said that “the problem is [only] the NFL’s.” Read ABI’s short statement above, in its entirety. Does it say that? No, it fucking doesn’t. They say they’re “disappointed and concerned” (which I am, and so are most people) that they are “not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of [these] behaviors (again, I’m not, you’re probably not. Who exactly is satisfied, apart from the team owners?) and that the violent behavior “clearly go against our own company culture and moral code” (which of course, it does). Just because ABI makes beer doesn’t mean they condone violence against women, violence against children or violence of any kind for fucksakes, and yet that’s the connection AJ, and sadly Jon Stewart, are making. That since a minority of people abuse alcohol, and may commit violent acts while intoxicated, that means beer companies either don’t have a moral code or have one that thinks violence is okay. Using that logic, there should be no gun manufacturers either. Because if you make a gun, and someone kills another person with it, well that means you’re condoning violence using the same twisted logic they’re employing here. And if you have a gun, you have no choice but to kill somebody. You can’t help it, there’s no personal responsibility. How dare anyone even suggest that you take responsibility for your actions? That would be ludicrous, wouldn’t it?

Then there’s this gem. The “prevention of domestic abuse and player violence off the field has to begin with the end of the NFL’s promotion of alcohol.” Really, that’s where the NFL needs to start in addressing this? Promoting alcohol is not the same thing as promoting violence, as that statement suggests, and yet again AJ is turning the debate toward their own agenda, despite the fact that it has little to do with what’s going on here.

Sadder still, they provide a list of truly tragic events where former players committed suicide, murder or were arrested for being drunk or shooting off firearms. And those are awful, but those incidents did not occur for the sole reason that any one of them took a drink. People don’t kill themselves just because they got drunk, they do so, or worse, because of deep-seated problems that most likely had little or nothing to do with alcohol. Because most if us do not take to violence when we drink. A violent drunk is a violent person.

AJ’s sheriff leaves us with this wisdom. “In the NFL culture of game aggression and beer marketing, the players alone can’t be blamed for alcohol abuse, binge drinking and addiction that leads to domestic violence, homicide, suicides and traffic collisions.” First of all, why can’t all of us be blamed for our actions. Is a Twinkie defense so ingrained in our culture that we can’t conceive of being responsible for our own actions, so much so that there has to be an outside cause we can blame? I don’t get that. If you do the crime, you did the crime. It shouldn’t, and really doesn’t, matter if you were drinking, or on drugs, or your blood sugar was too low, or you were amped up on a sugar rush eating Twinkies. Such factors may explain certain bad decisions and poor judgement, but they never excuse it. Many, many factors may contribute to our behavior every single day of our lives. But in the end, we are responsible for what we do to ourselves, and others. Why is that so hard to understand?

Finally, Livingston demands that “the NFL and sports’ biggest beer sponsors Budweiser and Coors educate on the harms and dangers of alcohol, get advertising and overconsumption out of the game, and recognize moderation and (horror of horrors) abstinence as legitimate choices for players and fans.” All of the major beer companies have responsibility programs, but of course AJ never acknowledges that they’re anything except half-hearted, forever criticizing them. The advertising angle as I’ve gone over, is the same tired tactic prohibitionists have been using for over 80 years. But I love that he says — excuse me, demands — these companies “recognize moderation and (horror of horrors) abstinence as legitimate choices for players and fans.” Who said they don’t? Oh, that’s right. You did. Because nobody else is insisting that anyone must drink, or must drink heavily, and no one’s trying to make it a requirement. And I won’t mention that as long as moderate drinking is shown to increase the average person’s longevity, barring any specific health issues, that advocating for abstinence is actually not the best choice someone might make. But I won’t mention that. It might upset your delicate constitution.

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An example of one of the big brewers’ responsibility ads that already exists, but which AJ insists they aren’t doing but demands they should.

The reality is that this is a very complicated issue, and it does little good to reduce it to a single factor, or even just a primary factor, especially when it’s the wrong one. And unlike the absolute blinders that AJ wears, I recognize that people with violent tendencies abusing alcohol could make them worse, and more violent. Such people probably should not drink, and certainly not to excess. I’ve had my fair share of personal encounters with such people throughout my life. But like most things, the dose makes the poison. I’ve also had even more experiences with many, many people with whom I’ve shared a drink with positive outcomes. Drinking sessions during which no one resorted to violence at all. For me, and I suspect most of us, that’s the norm.

I want to believe that prohibitionists are well-intentioned, that they sincerely mean well. But it’s difficult to maintain that belief when they’re so continually dishonest and manipulative, so ends-justify-the-means about everything, all the time. I’ve been watching the self-proclaimed watchdogs for a number of years now, and they constantly amaze me with their underhanded tactics and propaganda. They remind me of a bad joke, but one that many people actually take seriously, and don’t realize is a joke. Which is why they’re so damn scary.

But this is really supposed to be about violence and especially violence against women and children. So it’s somewhat surprising that Alcohol Justice would try to distract the debate away from that, instead heaping the blame on their favorite target: alcohol. Actually, it’s not surprising at all, just par for the course, sad to say. But for the sake of my daughter, and women everywhere, I sure wish they’d cut it out. Unfortunately, if history is any teacher, the drive by fanatical temperance groups for another prohibition will almost certainly outlive me.

As for the NFL, I do wish they’d get their shit together. Unfortunately, I’m not hopeful, not under the current management or with the current team ownership. Money is their driving priority, which is understandable to a point, but until they leave a little room for human decency, then nothing is likely to change very much. They’re in damage control mode right now, and that will likely continue until everybody’s moved on to the next news cycle. Goddell has already tried to not do anything about it when he “promised” changes by the Super Bowl, at the end of the season, four months from now. He’s hoping everyone will just forget about it, and they probably will so long as there aren’t any new cases of player mischief that pop up. Their committees will offer some half-hearted band-aids, no real or long-lasting solutions, and that will be it, provided everything stays quiet. There’s just too much money at stake for a sweeping change, especially absent the amount of pressure from the league’s fan base that would be needed. And the larger problem with that is the way violence against women and children in our society is currently tolerated and accepted. Until that changes, it’s unlikely the NFL will change, either. But as long as people can avoid responsibility for their actions, their “personal conduct,” and can continue to blame alcohol, nothing will change, either. Which is why Alcohol Justice’s position that alcohol is to blame for violent behavior, and not anyone’s personal conduct, is so dangerous that they’re actually making this situation worse. It’s a good thing I’m not prone to violence.

NFL Beer Prices Continue To Make Movie Popcorn Look Like A Bargain

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I took a look at Beer Prices By Football Stadium in 2012, and you’ll probably be as un-shocked as it’s possible to be to learn that they’re even higher today than two years ago. According to a report by Business Insider, the “average cost for a small draft beer at NFL games this season is $7.53,” which last year was only $7.05. Only, ha. That still makes it more ridiculously proceed than the concessions at movie theaters. At least, movie houses have the excuse that they don’t make much on the films themselves, and have to make it up on popcorn and soda pop. NFL tickets, by contrast, are one of the most expensive things a family can buy, and the NFL rakes in billions, despite being classified as a non-profit!

And according to another recent report by Team Marketing Report, the most expensive place to see a game is the 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara. “The estimated price for a family of four to attend a game in the Niners’ new digs … is $641.50, a hefty, expected increase from their last season in San Francisco. That includes an average non-premium ticket price of $117, which is second only to the New England Patriots’ $122.” Hell, the average price for an NFL ticket is $84.43, and the average “Fan Cost Index price is $479.11,” meaning that’s how much it costs for a family of four to go to a stadium and see an NFL football game.

But let’s get back to the beer. The two most expensive stadiums to buy a beer are both in the Bay Area, $10.75 for 20 oz. at a Raiders game and $10.25 for 20 oz. at a Niners game. “The increase comes despite the introduction of a $4.50 beer in St. Louis, where the Rams now have the cheapest beer in the NFL,” but as they point out those lower prices are also for smaller pours, in some cases nearly half. “If we consider the size of the beer, the most expensive beer is in Philadelphia, where the smallest beer costs 71 cents per ounce. The Cincinnati Bengals offer the cheapest beer per ounce, with a 14-ounce beer costing just $5 (36 cents per ounce).”

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NFL Football: Pick The Winners At Brookston Fantasy Games 2014

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This is the eighth year for the Brookston Fantasy Football Games. We’ve had a lot of fun over the last seven, so if you love football and beer, consider joining us this year, whether you’ve played in past seasons or are a newcomer. The NFL season begins on Thursday September 4, so you’ve got about three weeks to sign up.

I’ve again set up two free Yahoo fantasy football games, one a simple pick ‘em game and the other a survival pool. Up to 50 people can play each game (that’s Yahoo’s limit, not mine), so if you’re a regular Bulletin reader feel free to sign up for one or even both. It’s free to play, all you need is a Yahoo ID, which is also free. Below is a description of each game and the details on how to join each league and play.


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Pro Football Pick’em

In this Pick’em game, just pick the winner for every game each week, with no spread, and let’s see who gets the most correct throughout the season. All that’s at stake is bragging rights, but it’s still great fun.

Also, like last year, we’ll be able to keep picking all through the playoffs, so the game will continue through to the Super Bowl, which is pretty cool.

In order to join the group, just go to Pro Football Pick’em, click the “Sign Up” button (or “Create or Join Group” if you are a returning user). From there, follow the path to join an existing private group and when prompted, enter the following information…

Group ID#: 11809 (Brookston Football Picks)
Password: brookston


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Survival Football

If picking all sixteen football games every week seems like too much, then Survival Football is for you. In Survival Football, you only have to pick one game each week. The only catch is you can’t pick the same team to win more than once all season. And you better be sure about each game you pick because if you’re wrong, you’re out for the season. Actually two years ago they added a new feature and I changed the game so to be kicked out you have to be wrong twice. In that way more people stand a better chance of lasting longer into the season. So get one wrong, and you’re still okay, get a second wrong, now you’re gone for the season. Last man standing wins.

Again, like last year, we can keep picking all through the playoffs, assuming our luck holds. So the game could even continue through to the Super Bowl.

In order to join the group, just go to Survival Football, click the “Sign Up” button and choose to “Join an Existing Group”, then “Join a Private Group”. Then, when prompted, enter the following information…

Group ID#: 1485 (Brookston Survival League)
Password: brookston

With 50 players allowed in each game, there’s plenty of room, so don’t be shy. Sign up for one or both games. In past seasons, I’ve posted the standings on the home page, and hopefully I’ll do that again this season. Why not join us? Go head to head again me and my team, the Brookston Brew Jays.

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Beer In Ads #1089: When You’re Out Of Schlitz, Punt.


Saturday’s ad, to get your ready for tomorrow’s Super Bowl, is for Schlitz, from 1969. It’s a funny one. Showing an upside down can of Schlitz held up by a finger, ready for the kick … wait a minute. What’s wrong with this picture? How did this get published? Figure it out yet? Somebody at the ad agency must have known something about football, or maybe not. Check the headline again. “When You’re Out Of Schlitz, Punt.” Whoops. Hilarious.

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As You Watch The Big Game Sunday, Ignore This

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Never one to pass up an opportunity to proselytize, Alcohol Justice’s annual Superb Owl press release, Big Alcohol’s Big Game Plan is another excellent example of hypocrisy in action. What does Big Alcohol’s “game plan” consist of? Why patent lies, of course, that is completely obvious lies. We’re always lying, apparently, whereas the Watchdog Sheriff of Alcohol always tells the truth.

Our main lie, this time, is that the alcohol industry maintains “that there is no evidence that exposure to alcohol ads encourages underage consumption or harmful over-consumption among adults.” Of course, there is an annual report that has for years shown that advertising is the least influential factor for underage drinking, and has been dropping since they started doing the survey in 1991. According to GfK Roper Youth Report Examines Influences on Youth Decisions about Drinking, advertising accounts for 1% of youth drinking influence. So while I don’t think anyone is arguing advertising has no influence over anything, it’s very small, and kids see ads for things adults buy all the time for the simple reason that they’re in the world. I saw beer ads as a kid. I also saw cigarette ads, and yet I’ve never smoked them.

As for adults, alcohol is legal, advertising is legal, if people over-consume it that’s their business. Why can’t people use the occasion of one of the biggest sporting events of the year to relax and celebrate, sharing a few beers with friends and family? As long as they’re not doing something illegal or obnoxious, that should be nobody’s business. This is certainly a topic for debate, the amount of influence, etc. but as I’ve written before, as long as AJ keeps calling everyone in the alcohol industry a liar, any meaningful dialogue seems fairly inconceivable, but then I don’t think they have any interest in actually having a discussion or finding any workable solutions. They just want to bash the industry and collect donations because they think we account for all the evil in the world.

But the most interesting part of this particular propaganda piece is the section entitled “As You Watch The Big Game Sunday, Think About This.” Here’s the first thing they want us to think about:

Driven by Big Alcohol advertising, branding, sponsorship and celebrity endorsements, America consumes an estimated 325 million gallons of beer on the day of the big game, so alcohol-related harm is inevitable.

325 million gallons? There are approximately 314 million people in the U.S. That means every man, woman and child drinks 1.035 gallons of beer, or about 11 12-oz. bottles of beer in four hours, a figure that represents 5% of total annual beer production. Does that sound even remotely reasonable? That figure fooled me last year when a website listed it and I re-posted it. But I later took a closer look at it and discovered that it came from — shock — Alcohol Justice, who as far as I could tell just made it up. Because as I wrote in Hoodwinked By Propaganda, that number just doesn’t add up. A more reliable figure is around 50 million cases of beer are purchased for the Sunday of the game, probably not all on that day, but in the week leading up to it. That’s around 112.5 million gallons, or roughly one-third of AJ’s number. Talk about inflation. And that’s purchased, not all of that beer is consumed that one day, either.

And “inevitable?” “Alcohol-related harm is inevitable?” Remember that the amount AJ insists is consumed is wrong, a patent lie. But regardless of the amount, whenever people drink it’s not inevitable that harm will follow. It’s not even likely. I’ve consumed my fare share of beer during, well, every single Super Bowl since around 1980. Guess how many times I’ve experienced the supposedly inevitable alcohol-related harm? That would be a grand total of zero times. Will some people act stupidly and make fools of themselves? Of course they will. But that has more to do with the law of large numbers than alcohol. But if 1,000 people drink and one person does something stupid, does that invalidate the other 999? Apparently in AJ’s mind it does, they seem to find anything short of perfection unacceptable. But I’d like to know what other human pursuit is held to such a standard. Certainly gun-related accidents account for some of the annual death toll in America. But I don’t see anyone rushing to ban all guns until we achieve perfection in gun safety. It’s absurd to think that accidents or stupidly won’t happen, if for no other reason than we’re imperfect, fallible humans. But it’s even more absurd to think that any attempts to stop all of them, usually by punishing the majority of people who are blameless and have done nothing wrong, can ever be 100% effective, or frankly even marginally effective.

“It is estimated that about 20 to 30 million kids will tune in to watch [the Super Bowl] on TV and online. As usual, they will be saturated once again with seductive beer ads.”

Saturated? Saturated is defined as “completely filled with something.” Anheuser-Busch InBev is running five spots during the game, for a grand total of four minutes. According to AdAge’s list of Super Bowl advertisers, MillerCoors won’t have any ads in this year’s broadcast. The Super Bowl is scheduled to be aired over four hours, or 240 minutes. Kids, if they’re even paying attention, will see at most four minutes of beer advertisements in four hours. That’s 1.66% of the game’s broadcast time. So the beer industry is a bunch of liars, but 4 minutes out of 4 hours is saturation. That’s what passes for truthfulness?

Two of smartest [sic], most popular TV personalities in the country also believe that there’s something wrong with mixing alcohol and sports. Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” recently skewered booze-swilling pot critics http://bit.ly/1c0evqa and questioned excessive beer ads on TV sports. While Steven Colbert on “The Colbert Report” commented on lucrative NFL sponsorships and Peyton Manning’s recent “shout-out” for Bud Light http://bit.ly/1dBo0kz “What’s weighing on my mind is how soon I can get a Bud Light in my mouth after this win. That’s priority number 1,” stated Manning.

You do understand that those are comedy shows? They’re not hard news. I love both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s shows, but they mine the news for comedy gold, and make fun of it wherever they find it. They’re really good at it, so good in fact that you thought they were seriously taking your side and promoting your position? Wow, how sad.

Alcohol ads, sponsorships, and celebrity endorsements associated with sports are disturbing not just because they are designed to lure young people to take that first drink but because as Kerry O’Brien said “…they also
cleverly create a culture where kids perceive alcohol consumption as a normal everyday part of life.

Designed to lure young people to take that first drink? Really? Can you honestly believe that celebrity endorsements only sway kids, that adults are immune to them and not their main target? Alcohol advertising is aimed squarely at adults, the people legally allowed to purchase and consume it. That’s who they’re designed to “lure.” You do understand that the purpose of advertising is to produce a result, like when you run ads endlessly begging for donations. It would be completely bad economics to target persons who are prohibited from buying the advertised products and, in most cases, have little or no money to buy them.

Alcohol consumption as a normal everyday part of life? There’s nothing clever about that, alcohol consumption is perfectly legal, and apart from those surreally ineffective thirteen years last century, it always has been. It is a normal part of everyday life. AJ may not like that fact, but that changes nothing. It’s not clever, creative advertising that give people that perception that “alcohol consumption [is] a normal everyday part of life,” it’s reality.

What I continue to find incredibly insulting about AJ’s propaganda is their insistence that they’re the honest ones and we’re all a bunch of liars. And yet they take huge liberties with the truth constantly. But what’s also annoying is the idea that adults can’t do anything adult if there are children present. Seeing a beer ad during a football game with adults present, to explain the context, etc., is exactly how they should see them. AJ seems worried that 20 to 30 million kids will watch the Super Bowl, but I have to question that figure, too. The most Americans who watched the Super Bowl was 111.3 million people for the 2011 contest, with 111 million the year before. Even at 20 million, that would mean about 18% of viewers were children, or almost 1 in 5. At 30 million, it would be 27%, just over one-quarter of viewers. Nielsen puts the percentage of kids at 16% or around 18 million.

But does the number really matter that much? These kids will undoubtedly be with their families. I doubt many, or any, of them will be watching the Super Bowl by themselves. You’d think that any event that brings families together would be something to celebrate: families spending time together is good thing, isn’t it? But apparently that’s not how AJ sees it. So I have to ask: what would AJ prefer? Should the kids be sent away? Should society set up day camps all over the country where kids can be sent to so they can be shielded from seeing those four minutes worth of beer ads during the game? Separated from their families for an adults-only game? Maybe they think that having kids means you no longer should be permitted to enjoy adult pursuits. Being a parent means giving up every aspect of your own life for your kids, the two worlds can never meet. That seems reasonable, doesn’t it?

Or would they prefer we just do away with all sporting events entirely, instead having us all stay home and play Chutes and Ladders or Candyland until our kids go off to college or are on their own, no longer living at home. At that point, and that point only, will it be safe once more to turn on the TV set and watch a football game. Seriously, what exactly would satisfy Alcohol Justice? What is their goal here? What would a reasonable outcome that satisfies their fanaticism look like? We know they want all alcohol advertising removed from sports. But adults can, and do, enjoy a beer while watching sports. It’s still legal, despite the prohibitionists efforts to limit it as much as possible. And while kids do watch sports, it’s adults who constitute the vast majority of its audience. Is it really reasonable to ban something perfectly legal for a majority of the population because kids can see it. The strategy is that by saying that the alcohol is causing harm, it should be banned the same way we banned tobacco ads and smoking in most public places. But smoke was uncontrollable and could do actual harm. Alcohol doesn’t do any harm, it’s action neutral. People abusing it might, but that’s entirely different. Unless you’re blinded by ideology, you get that some people can abuse alcohol but most people don’t. The outcome is up to the individual, so that’s the variable; it’s not the alcohol that’s doing any harm, no more so than too much red meat can effect your heart or too much sugar can rot your teeth.

We can’t, and shouldn’t, create two separate worlds where one is adults only, a place where we can’t take the kids … ever, and a separate kid’s world where kids are forever sheltered from the adult world until that magic day when they turn eighteen and we throw them into the deep end to fend for themselves, completely unprepared. Actually, we’ll need three worlds. We’ll need an extra, separate adult world that still is void of alcohol, since adults ages 18-20 aren’t allowed to drink yet. Because nothing less will satisfy Alcohol Justice. It doesn’t matter that it’s utterly unrealistic.

So watch the Super Bowl tomorrow, if you want. Ignore all of this. Have a good time, with your wife/husband and kids, if you have any, along with any other family and friends you wish. Enjoy a beer or two, or more. You’re an adult, do what the hell you want.

drink-beer-and-watch-football

UPDATE: OMG Facts tweeted during the Super Bowl that the average American drinks 4 beers over the course of the day of the game. That figure works out to be 117,750,000 gallons, just over one-third (36%) of the 325 million figure that Alcohol Justice is spreading in their propaganda. Seeming more and more like a patent lie to me all the time.

Your Father’s Beer

bud-light
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning famously said a couple of weeks ago after his victory over the Chargers that all he could think of was how soon he could “get a Bud Light in [his] mouth.” It seemed like a slap in the face to pick Budweiser while being the QB in the land of Rocky Mountain spring water-made Coors. Not to mention that Colorado is one of the best beer states in America, so it’s no surprise that a number of smaller craft breweries also called him out for his choice of frosty beverage. But in subsequent interviews, Manning’s stuck to his guns, succinctly explaining the reason for his beer preference.

“My father taught me a number of things, one of which being that Bud Light is the preferred beer of the Manning household”

My only question is this. Peyton Manning is 37 years old. He’s also married with two children, and presumably no longer lives at home but has his own household. At what age did you stop doing everything your father told you? It may be true, but it seems like a bit of a cop out. I thought it was more common to eschew your father’s beer and make your own choices.

I remember a particularly enlightening conversation I eavesdropped on at GABF a number of years ago. I was walking the hall, in a hurry on my way to somewhere, when a group of at least half-a-dozen young men, presumably in their early twenties, blocked my path and forced me to slow up behind them. From just behind their slow-walking row, I could hear what they were saying as we ambled past the Sierra Nevada Brewing booth. One of the them elbowed his friend, and pointing his head toward Sierra Nevada’s booth, remarked. “Sierra Nevada; my Dad really likes that beer.” He put the emphasis on “Dad” when he said it, indicating that it wasn’t necessarily a good thing. I remembered that a while later when I was having dinner and some drinks with Ken and Brian Grossman, and mentioned what I’d overheard. They said they were fully aware of that as a growing problem, having been around long enough that they were becoming the new generation’s Dad’s beer. It’s part of the reason they began doing so many more collaborations, specialty releases and even beer camp. It’s an interesting facet of the craft beer industry as it grows and matures. How do you maintain your image while also remaining fresh to newer, younger customers? Because nobody wants to drink the same beer as their father. I know I didn’t, and don’t.

I know none of this matters and everyone is free to drink whatever the hell they want. Still, I find it fascinating to watch how certain statements play out in the media. Had Manning picked a Coors product, he would have pleased the hometown fans. Had he picked a craft beer, especially a local one, he would have made the hometown fans, and many good beer lovers, overjoyed. Instead he picked Bud Light, coincidentally the “official beer of the NFL,” so most likely the group he pleased the most was the league.

pfm-shirt

Last fall, Manning apparently bought twenty-one Papa John’s Pizza franchises, all in Colorado. I wonder what beers they serve?

manning-papa-johns

NFL Football: Pick The Winners At Brookston Fantasy Games 2013

football
This is the seventh year for the Brookston Fantasy Football Games. We’ve had a lot of fun over the last six, so if you love football and beer, consider joining us this year, whether you’ve played in past seasons or are a newcomer. The NFL season begins on Thursday September 5, so you’ve got about two and change days to sign up.

I’ve again set up two free Yahoo fantasy football games, one a simple pick ‘em game and the other a survival pool. Up to 50 people can play each game (that’s Yahoo’s limit, not mine), so if you’re a regular Bulletin reader feel free to sign up for one or even both. It’s free to play, all you need is a Yahoo ID, which is also free. Below is a description of each game and the details on how to join each league and play.


nfl-teams

Pro Football Pick’em

In this Pick’em game, just pick the winner for every game each week, with no spread, and let’s see who gets the most correct throughout the season. I’ve kept the new wrinkle I added last year. Since we’re all very busy, and you (or I) might screw up at least one week, you can still throw out your lowest week. All that’s at stake is bragging rights, but it’s still great fun.

Also, like last year, we’ll be able to keep picking all through the playoffs, so the game will continue through to the Super Bowl, which is pretty cool.

In order to join the group, just go to Pro Football Pick’em, click the “Sign Up” button (or “Create or Join Group” if you are a returning user). From there, follow the path to join an existing private group and when prompted, enter the following information…

Group ID#: 49449 (Brookston NFL Pick To Win)
Password: brookston


packers-retro

Survival Football

If picking all sixteen football games every week seems like too much, then Survival Football is for you. In Survival Football, you only have to pick one game each week. The only catch is you can’t pick the same team to win more than once all season. And you better be sure about each game you pick because if you’re wrong, you’re out for the season. Actually last year they added a new feature and I changed the game so to be kicked out you have to be wrong twice. In that way more people stand a better chance of lasting longer into the season. So get one wrong, and you’re still okay, get a second wrong, now you’re gone for the season. Last man standing wins.

Again, like last year, we can keep picking all through the playoffs, assuming our luck holds. So the game could even continue through to the Super Bowl.

In order to join the group, just go to Survival Football, click the “Sign Up” button and choose to “Join an Existing Group”, then “Join a Private Group”. Then, when prompted, enter the following information…

Group ID#: 23412 (Brookston Survival League)
Password: brookston

With 50 players allowed in each game, there’s plenty of room, so don’t be shy. Sign up for one or both games. IN past seasons, I’ve posted the standings on the home page, and hopefully I’ll be able to do that again soon. Why not join us?

Beer Prices By Football Stadium

nfl
Given the NFL owner’s wanton disregard for their fans with the labor dispute debacle earlier this year, I’ve been paying much less attention to the football season. I check in to see if my beloved Packers have won, but that’s about it. For a number of years now — since I’ve had kids — I rarely go to a live game, usually because it’s such a time-consuming hassle and so expensive, in part because there’s four of us so costs rise exponentially. That’s especially true when it comes to beer, if you can even find anything worth drinking.

To help find a better deal, and to prove my point, Save on Brew looked at beer prices at the 32 NFL stadiums in a post entitled the 2012 – 2013 NFL Stadium Beer Price Infographic.

SOB-2012-2013-nfl-stadium-prices

Here’s what they found:

Going to the game? It’s gonna cost you. According to FanCostExperience.Com (and the source for our stadium data), prices are rising across the sport. The average beer is up 15 cents from last year at $7.28. In this economy, every cent counts.

Rounding out the price-assault on the American public, the average NFL ticket is $78.38 (that’s a regular ticket, the “premium ticket” average is $243.70), a soft drink is $4.57, a ‘dog is $4.84, parking is $27.35, a program is $4.06, and a cap celebrating your favorite team will set you back $21.38 (on average) and, of course, a few of those $7.28 beers adds up pretty fast. In fact, a family of 4 will spend, on average, $443.93.

So wow, that’s even more expensive than I’d thought. That makes movie theater food and drink look like an absolute bargain. I guess they need to make that much profit so they can pay the referees. I feel so sorry for the owners, that they must be struggling so much that they need to charge close to six times the retail price for a beer. Because if the average price for a beer at an NFL stadium is $7.28 for 17 oz., that’s 42.8 cents per ounce! That works out to be about $5.14 for 12 ounces. A six-pack of Bud Light at my local BevMo costs $5.79, making it pretty close to six times the price. Now that’s gouging.

For a mainstream craft beer it’s almost as bad. A six-pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale costs $8.99 at BevMo, meaning 12 ounces of pale ale will cost you more than half of the price of an entire six-pack outside the stadium.

Notice the average cost for a family of four? $444! Seriously, how many people can afford that on a regular basis? Another similar survey of NFL prices on Visual.ly, entitled The Real Cost of Attending a Game, likewise concluded that the average cost to a family of four is $427.42. In that survey, they found the average price for a small beer to be $7.13, a pretty similar result. Given how much money the owners make, it it really reasonable to charge so much for tickets and other concessions at the game? I understand that in some sense they’re market prices. There are enough people willing to pay that much, and many games are sold out or nearly so. But does that make it right? Especially when owners complain they can’t afford to pay the refs. Every few years they fleece the community in which they live, threatening to move the team if they’re not given free money, or at least tax relief, to build a new stadium they probably don’t need. Don’t believe that? Read Field of Schemes.

It’s really a shame. I love the game. I like watching the games, cheering on my favorite team, especially with my son. I know it’s a business. I get that. But sports is really a part of the entertainment industry, so it’s not exactly like other businesses. As the recent strikes in baseball, basketball and football have shown, team owners really seem to believe that the people who consume their products — the fans — don’t matter all that much. But they could ease up on the beer prices and still make a healthy profit. That’s a decision I could drink to.

the-real-cost-of-attending-a-football-game

NFL Football: Pick The Winners At Brookston Fantasy Games 2012

football
This is the sixth year for the Brookston Fantasy Football Games. We’ve had a lot of fun over the last five, so if you love football and beer, consider joining us this year, whether you’ve played in past seasons or are a newcomer. The NFL season begins on Wednesday September 5, so you’ve got about five days to sign up.

I’ve again set up two free Yahoo fantasy football games, one a simple pick ‘em game and the other a survival pool. Up to 50 people can play each game (that’s Yahoo’s limit, not mine), so if you’re a regular Bulletin reader feel free to sign up for one or even both. It’s free to play, all you need is a Yahoo ID, which is also free. Below is a description of each game and the details on how to join each league and play.

Standings for both leagues will be listed at the bottom of the Bulletin’s right column.


nfl-teams

Pro Football Pick’em

In this Pick’em game, just pick the winner for every game each week, with no spread, and let’s see who gets the most correct throughout the season. I’ve added a new wrinkle this year. Since we’re all very busy, and you (or I) might screw up at least one week, you can now throw out your lowest week. All that’s at stake is bragging rights, but it’s still great fun.

Also, like last year, we’ll be able to keep picking all through the playoffs, so the game will continue through to the Super Bowl, which is pretty cool.

In order to join the group, just go to Pro Football Pick’em, click the “Sign Up” button (or “Create or Join Group” if you are a returning user). From there, follow the path to join an existing private group and when prompted, enter the following information…

Group ID#: 11630 (Brookston NFL Pick To Win)
Password: brookston


packers-retro

Survival Football

If picking all sixteen football games every week seems like too much, then Survival Football is for you. In Survival Football, you only have to pick one game each week. The only catch is you can’t pick the same team to win more than once all season. And you better be sure about each game you pick because if you’re wrong, you’re out for the season. Actually last year they added a new feature and I changed the game so to be kicked out you have to be wrong twice. In that way more people stand a better chance of lasting longer into the season. So get one wrong, and you’re still okay, get a second wrong, now you’re gone for the season. Last man standing wins.

Again, like last year, we can keep picking all through the playoffs, assuming our luck holds. So the game could even continue through to the Super Bowl.

In order to join the group, just go to Survival Football, click the “Sign Up” button and choose to “Join an Existing Group”, then “Join a Private Group”. Then, when prompted, enter the following information…

Group ID#: 4804 (Brookston Survival League)
Password: brookston

With 50 players allowed in each game, there’s plenty of room, so don’t be shy. Sign up for one or both games. Beginning after the first weekend of the regular season I’ll post the standings on the home page (at the bottom of the right-hand column) and then each Monday after that through the season. Why not join us?