Australian Sport and Diet
Crikey has posted an article on the current round of KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) commercials which promote a relationship between its processed food products and Australian cricket. I agree with most of Paul Barry’s essay although I suspect it assumes that people are little inclined to distinguish between nutritional and unhealthy eating practices; that is, the essay accords perhaps too much power to the multi-million dollar advertising campaign being conducted by KFC and Cricket Australia, a campaign that is targeted at changing people’s inclination to choose other options.
That aside, the linking of fast-food with sport is a cause for concern in that it naturalises an association of eating unhealthy processed foods with something that is ironically representative of the best in human physical achievement. That Cricket Australia has selected KFC as a suitable major sponsor suggests something of what Cricket Australia currently thinks is a close fit with its own core values and competencies (or at least those it expects of its audience!). I would argue however that this link between food and sport has a deeper cultural history in Australian society given we also conventionally (and more easily) link alcohol with sport. If you can answer how a specific class of beverage (which adversely affects motor skills, physical performance and mental acuity) has become idealised as the drink of choice for consumption during sporting events (which as a rule celebrate the athleticism of superior motor skills, physical training and mental focus — that is, the opposite of the effects of alcohol), then we might be closer to understanding the broader contradictory relationship between sport and diet in Australia.
As an argument of social responsibility, it is perhaps then less a question of replacing one brand with another more appropriate brand (since such a question locates the problem in terms of a contest between different tastes only) than asking, in light of obesity concerns, why unhealthy dietary practices have been historically linked with sport in Australia. After all, during the next sporting event of interest in Australia, you might not reach for a KFC drumstick but it’s highly probable you will reach for a beer or three.