It’s the pubs, not the clubsPaddy Lewis
I found this particularly disturbing, given that Davey Four Bellies and I have recruited an entire Pacific Island senior rugby team this year to prop up our club’s bar takings.
I’m joking, of course. Over the last 10 years since hanging the boots up I have watched Pacific Islanders collectively contribute exactly $1453.60 to my rugby club’s bar profits after interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization. This has largely been via purchases of raspberry and coke, orange juice, and water (OK, I’m joking again, liquor licensing people – we only charge them for cold water). Everyone else collectively contributed exactly $62,650 over the same period.
I have one Fijian player and friend who now enjoys a beer or two after a game – mainly because he has retired. I also know from experience that there are some Pacific Islanders in other clubs who do enjoy hitting the turps after a game. I just seem to always end up with the supremely talented Christian ones, even if all of the Fijians always organize a kava night to watch the ‘kaivalagi’ or white fellas go a bit silly. Again, from personal experience, things have changed considerably over the last few years. From the rugby club perspective, the idea that the bar pays for the club has flown well and truly out the window. It has become a social venue after games, certainly, but it is not the major money earner it was in the 1980s and 1990s.
The link between alcohol and sport is always thrown up as a terrible curse by wowsers like the Alcohol Liquor Advisory Council. Let’s remember that these are the people who run ads telling you to stop drinking. Research shows people hate being told what to do. QED, these ads are a waste of time.
Setting aside the fact Pacific Islanders in my ten years of personal research are not the problem, are sports clubs the problem? No. Because you can manage any issues by closing the bar. The person(s) responsible for the bar closing because of their excessive intake get the peer pressure of those who are enjoying their night and having a few. They invariably apologise once they have sobered up (usually Tuesday training).
Club drinking is friends drinking with friends after playing sport, whether it be squash, rugby, or football. There is always someone looking after the players, because the threat of the club losing its liquor licence is a punitive penalty, even if the licence doesn’t make as much money as it used to.
Despite the well-connected Hospitality Association of NZ making out they look after patrons, the reality is that a sports club faces greater penalties, but more importantly has the intimate knowledge of patrons to look after them, and the club. When was the last time you heard a pub closing the bar because one of the patrons was drunk? The parents keeping their kids from joining sports clubs because of this apparent ‘booze culture’ could perhaps do worse than actually get involved with the club if they are concerned.