Humorless Scold Smackdown

Inside Higher Ed notes in passing that several NCAA Presidents are complaining about alcohol advertising during the NCAA Tournament. The source for this is a study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest:

According to CSPI’s analysis of broadcasts of the semifinal and championship basketball games, the NCAA is exceeding the limits on beer ads it set for itself in 2005 of not more than 60 seconds per hour or not more than 120 seconds in any telecast. During the UCLA versus Memphis broadcast, CBS aired 200 seconds of beer advertising comprised of 15-, 20-, and 30-second spots for Bud Light, Bud Light Lime, and Miller Lite. During the North Carolina versus Kansas semifinal broadcast, CBS aired 240 seconds of beer ads. During the final on Monday night, 270 seconds of beer ads aired–more than twice what the NCAA says it allows. And none of those totals include several showings each night of Bud Light and Miller Lite sponsorship banners on the screen for five or six seconds at a time.

“Allowing sixty seconds of beer advertising per hour of collegiate sports is bad enough,” said Tracy Downs, manager of the Campaign for Alcohol-Free Sports TV, a project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “That’s sixty seconds too much. But exceeding that limit shows that the NCAA has a cavalier, ‘devil may care’ attitude about exposing kids to beer ads. They don’t even care enough to enforce their own policy.”

I’m sort of conflicted, here. If there’s any organization on the planet that deserves to be called on the carpet for technical violations of arbitrary rules, it’s the NCAA. Hook that petard right up, and hoist away.

At the same time, though, when I see the CSPI involved, my immediate reaction is “Oh, Jesus, not those guys again…” I remember them mostly for a series of shocking announcements back in the early 90’s, when they broke the news that take-out Chinese food wasn’t exactly the most healthy thing you could be eating, and followed it up with nutritional analyses of things like movie theater popcorn. They’re a pack of humorless scolds, forever releasing studies that suck the joy out of everyday activities, and making everybody else think less of science in general.

5 thoughts on “Humorless Scold Smackdown

  1. Yes, my wife’s attitude when the news about Chinese food came out was, “Well, if I ate Chinese takeway every day, then I would be concerned. But I don’t, so who cares?”

  2. Not only are CSPI humorless scolds, a few decades ago they very loudly denouncing saturated fats and making a very public effort to get large food companies to switch to what we now call trans fats. You know, the way margarine was supposed to be healthier than butter. Turns out the early research on saturated fats was marginal at best, and there is now conclusive evidence that trans-fats are the ones bad for you. Michael Chu has a decent writeup on his Cooking for Engineers site; the connection to CSPI is in the comments.

    Although he doesn’t directly address CSPI’s directly, Michael Pollan’s brilliant In Defense of Food effectively shows that the “nutritionism” mindset, in which CSPI is still trapped. I think there’s an analogy with the story he tells and about the way physics recognizes that both a reductionist and an abstractionist approaches are necessary: nutritionists are strictly reductionist, presume that the individual nutrients contribute to health in a strictly linear fashion, and completely ignore emergent phenomena.

  3. Hook that petard right up, and hoist away.

    ahhh, you did look “petard” up in the dictionary, didn’t you? this image doesn’t really fit the notion of being blown into the air. just sayin’

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