Classroom Lesson to Help Teens Analyze ’March Madness’ Beer Ads

The Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Campaign for Alcohol-Free Sports TV has teamed up with Media Literacy for Prevention, Critical Thinking, Self-Esteem, to provide educators with a free classroom lesson encouraging students to analyze beer ads aired during this year’s NCAA “March Madness” college basketball tournament.

The lesson asks students to watch 1 hour of any NCAA tournament game and keep a log of all alcohol commercials, logos, and sponsorships. The teacher and students then analyze the ads and messages together in class.

We believe that this lesson can be a good tool to stimulate scrutiny and discussion of the commercial connection between alcohol advertising and sports. It can be used in community and youth groups as well as in schools.

Please forward this information to teachers and others who work with young people. We hope this educational exercise will spur greater involvement among young people in efforts to challenge the exploitation of sports by beer marketers. They would be the best messengers to tell college presidents that promoting beer during sports telecasts is inconsistent with efforts to curb student drinking and not in the best interests of higher education.

The NCAA’s advertising and promotional standards claim to “exclude those advertisements and advertisers…that do not appear to be in the best interests of higher education and student-athletes.” Given the 1,700 deaths and $1.7 billion in lost tuition caused by excessive drinking on college campuses — much of it in the form of beer — it is inconceivable that the NCAA’s profiting from beer promotion during the college basketball tournament is in the best interests of higher education, sports, or student welfare.

A TNS Media Intelligence report found that beer was the second-ranked advertising category among the top five advertisers during the 2007 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and that spending for ads for Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing Company’s beers ranked fourth and fifth among all advertisers.

“Beer companies have a long history of convincing campuses that destructive drinking habits are a normal part of college life,” said Dr. Peter DeBenedittis, one of America’s foremost media literacy experts. “Teaching students to think critically about alcohol marketing is an effective tool for preventing binge drinking and pressuring campuses to stop selling their students to alcohol marketers.”

Download March Madness and other free lessons from

Learn more about Campaign for Alcohol-Free Sports TV.

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