The Laguna Beach City Council was right to revert to having only amateur competition at its annual volleyball tournament, now that most men’s and women’s professional teams are sponsored by liquor companies. By doing so, the council demonstrated it meant business when it said there will be no drinking on city beaches or at events that are sponsored by alcoholic beverage firms.
The city has been home to an annual volleyball tournament since the mid-1950s that grew so big that it began drawing professional teams sponsored by liquor companies. The city tolerated this for a few years, then decided that the events were drawing unruly crowds that routinely violated laws against drinking on the beach. The council subsequently banned any city co-sponsorship of events that also were sponsored by liquor companies; this had the effect of ruling out most professional volleyball teams.
This year, the pros tried again, pressuring the council to allow their new sponsors, Miller Lite and Coors Light, to serve beer at the weekend tournament in June. The council just said “no,” and went a step further, deciding to return the tournament to its previous amateur status. As the city learned in earlier years when liquor was allowed, it’s no fun for local police or residents when tournament spectators get drunk and cause problems.
There was a similar issue recently in Huntington Beach, where there’s no drinking allowed at the beach and events sponsored by liquor companies are also banned. When a women’s professional volleyball association asked to advertise its beer sponsors during a June tournament, saying it would also set up booths to tell about the dangers of alcohol abuse, the council refused to bend its policy.
Allowing liquor companies to sponsor volleyball events leaves beach-goers thinking that booze at the beach is OK. That’s not the message these two cities want to give--and they’re right.