02/06/2017 1:23 PM AEST | Updated 02/06/2017 1:23 PM AEST

It’s Time Our Sporting Codes Blew The Final Whistle On Fast Food Advertising

There’s no KFC in the diet of an elite athlete.

Dianne Manson via Getty Images
The Highlanders' Rob Thompson celebrates his try with the KFC mascot in a Super Rugby Match in Dunedin.

While our major sporting bodies kicked the cigarette-sponsorship habit years ago, it seems like they can't get enough greasy fast food money.

They cop plenty of flak for taking money from other organisations that ruin lives, like alcohol and gambling brands, but surely we should be taking the health of our kids just as seriously?

I reckon so, which is why I was struck by the huge hypocrisy of sports which want to fight youth obesity, but fail to examine their own sponsorship deals with fast food companies.

Getting more kids participating in sport is a fine goal, but what about looking at what they're eating when they're off the paddock?

Our sporting codes need to have a good, hard look at themselves and consider the responsibility they have in setting the right example.

I remember seeing Todd Sampson, the funny bloke in the quirky t-shirts from 'Gruen Transfer' on the ABC being asked what he thought the most valuable ad spots were in Australia, and he nominated that KFC-sponsored screen that pops up every single time the ref sends a call upstairs for the "Try" or "No Try" (it's the same with the third umpire in cricket).

Every head in the ground, and in homes around Australia, swivels to that screen and is offered an image of a fat-filled burger or oily chicken treat before the decision is given.

These sporting bosses are trying to put a Band-Aid over a bigger problem by saying kids should simply play more sport. I think they're causing more problems than they realise by promoting these brands and making eating these foods seem normal.


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Basically, they're telling kids that junk food is what a sports star eats, but I can tell you there's no KFC in the diet of an elite athlete, no matter how often you see a cricketer chowing into some on TV ads.

And KFC -- which is endorsed as "the official Fast Food Restaurant of Cricket Australia" -- gets away with selling its food as the "family" option, with its cheap and easy 12 pieces for $12. You'd be lucky to get 12 apples for that price, so it seems tempting -- but anything that cheap is rarely good for you.

I'm not just picking on KFC and its NRL and cricket sponsorships, of course, because you can see McDonald's everywhere you look in the AFL, which is also sponsored by Coca-Cola and the Mars chocolate group.

Our sporting codes need to have a good hard look at themselves and consider the responsibility they have in setting the right example, and promoting the right habits for our kids.

We're always hearing that the players need to act more like role models, so why doesn't that apply to the blokes in head office as well?


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