"Watch Baseball  * * * * * * * * * *  Drink Alcohol!"

The "pitch" of the beer hawker rang through the stands at Greer Stadium, as the young man sold his suds for $2.25 a cup. He had the fans in a laughing mood as he cried out, "Watch baseball  . . . Drink alcohol!"  I saw him return several times to a group of young people and ask, "Are you all right?", hinting that they might need another beer. (Late in the game law officers checked ID's, and poured out one boy's drink, but the salesman had not bothered all night to check the age of his youthful customers!) I enjoy it when I get a chance to see a good game, but the continual pushing of alcohol, especially in the presence of little children, really turns me off and takes away much of the enjoyment.

A while back the Associated Press had a report on "Sports and Alcohol." The writer said that four baseball teams are partially owned by brewers. Pro teams of both football and basketball also depend on ad and concession dollars from those "who concoct and hawk the most abused drug in the land." Consumed by 100 million Americans, it kills 100,000 every year.

The sporting world has come down hard on cocaine, amphetamines, and steroids, but remains relatively passive about the attractive gateway alcohol gives into the world of substance abuse. The NFL says that alcohol is the most abused drug in football, and is the only major sports organization to have a formal policy on the subject.

College trainers rank alcohol ahead of marijuana, cocaine, and steroids in frequency of abuse by college athletes, but only 38% test for it. (100% said they test for marijuana and cocaine.) Dr. Arnold Washton, a substance-abuse recovery expert, says "Alcohol is more toxic to the brain than cocaine. It kills brain cells. Cocaine won't do that. Alcohol is more toxic than heroin. It rots the insides. Heroin won't do that." [This quotation is definitely not a defense of cocaine or heroin, but a refutation of the attitude of many, "I don't do drugs, I only drink beer."]

Some of the strongest, most talented athletes in the world have seen their lives drowned in a sea of alcohol. Even strong Christians have lost their resistance and have seen their lives and influence go downhill. In whatever form it takes -- wine or wine cooler, bourbon or beer -- ethyl alcohol destroys body and soul.   "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1). As medical science progresses, the plea for total abstinence from beverage alcohol makes more sense than ever. Don't be misled by arguments for "moderate drinking." You won't regret it if you keep all your brain cells alive!

Note: Statistics and information from AP were reported in a daily newspaper in Nashville, TN.

Kenneth L. Thomas

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