In Alamance County, a local coalition partnered with the Burlington Royals Professional Baseball Team to encourage prevention at sporting events in the area.
Located in the northern Piedmont area of North Carolina, Alamance County’s history dates to pre-Revolutionary War times. Over 154,000 people call Alamance County home with 23 percent of the population under the age of 18 and 16 percent 65 years or older.
“Over the years we have provided signage at the Beer Garden areas that promote the 0-1-2 Responsible Drinking Messages, signs in the stadium tunnels that say, “The Easiest Place for Kids to get alcohol is at home,” an outfield sign with a “Life At Its Best-Face Project” message and an outdoor sign that remains up all year long for all that pass by the stadium to see that says, ‘What are you doing about underage drinking?’” said Karen Webb, Director at Alamance Citizens for a Drug Free Community.
In addition, every baseball season, the coalition hosts “Family Night at the Ballpark” where materials on the issues and dangers of underage alcohol use and excessive drinking are provided. There is also information for parents on “alcopops,” an experiential demonstration of a standard drink-size plus fun activities for the kids such as spraying their hair lime green, hot pink and orange. The Royals share public address announcements during the game with prevention messages, provided by the coalition.
Through advocacy work on behalf of the coalition, the Burlington Royals Professional Baseball management now requires all bartenders to attend the “Be A Responsible Seller” (BARS) Training before the start of the season. Working closely with the coalition, Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) officers provide one-hour training onsite at the Burlington Athletic Stadium. The curriculum covers penalties for selling alcohol to someone underage or intoxicated, how and when to ask for an ID, identifying valid versus fake IDs, signs of intoxication, and when to refuse a sale and managing problem situations. The curriculum also utilizes multiple learning modalities including a PowerPoint presentation, small group discussions, question and answer period and the actual handling of valid and fake IDs.
Prior to the 2012 summer baseball season, beer was only sold during Burlington Royals Professional Baseball games in 16-ounce cups. In a discussion with the Royals General Manager about ways to prevent alcohol sales to underage youth and to curb excessive alcohol use among adults, the manager was asked if he would consider also using a standard 12-ounce cup in addition to the 16-ounce size. While he agreed in principle, he was concerned that the purchase of these cups was not part of his budget. The coalition approached a local bank, who agreed to purchase the 12-ounce cups as a pilot project for that season. In addition, the general manager decided to serve Thirsty Thursday beer sales only in the 12-ounce cups, immediately reducing alcohol consumption. The next season, the same bank purchased the 12-ounce cups for the stadium with similar popular results. Since 2014, the Burlington Royals General manager has incorporated the cost of 12-ounce cups in the budget resulting in a systemic change for this organization.
At the end of the 2012 season, over 15 percent of fans who purchased beer preferred the 12-ounce size over the 16-ounce size, and during the 2017 season, 37 percent preferred the 12-ounce size.
“Begin a conversation and relationship with your local baseball (or other sports teams) and collaborate on messages and strategies that can reduce access to alcohol especially for our youth,” said Webb. “Also, engaging any other stakeholders who support the sport and want to keep kids healthy and safe are additional ways to reinforce efforts.”