USA Swimming’s House of Delegates has approved regulations surrounding the sale of alcoholic beverages at senior-level meets, as well as those for alcohol-related sponsorships.
The guidelines were first proposed in February’s Board of Directors meeting, where USA Swimming Chief Marketing Officer Matt Farrell reported that the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Gambling Task Force – which includes Olympian Anthony Ervin and USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey – was working on guidelines.
From the September 29th meeting minutes:
“The assembled House of Delegates members also voted to approve alcoholic beverages or the recognition of alcohol sponsors at USA Swimming National Championships, Trials class meets, U.S. Open Championships, USA Swimming Open Water National Championships and the TYR Pro Swim Series events, or others as approved the USA Swimming’s Chief Marketing Officer.
The approved rule allows more flexibility for a team to enter a sponsorship with companies around adult-focused activities – not youth swim meets.
This rule proposal shifts the decision making from the Board of Directors to the staff to grant exceptions for clubs or non ‘senior, national-level events.’ This shift from Board to staff is consistent with the philosophy of the new governance structure.”
The recommended guidelines include restrictions for alcohol on the pool deck or in athlete areas and athlete seating areas. The committee recommended that alcohol only be served at senior, national-level events and “adult-focused areas of the venue at non senior, national-level events or non-competition events with approval from USA Swimming staff.” Examples of senior, national-level events include the Pro Swim Series, Open Water Nationals, Nationals, Winter Nationals, and the U.S. Olympic Trials.
USA Swimming tested out alcohol sales with the inclusion of a beer garden at the 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships over the summer.
The committee also recommended that alcohol sponsorships “should not include the pool deck of any non senior-level national event,” nor should it include any logos on suits, caps, and goggles. The recommended guidelines also suggested that certain alcohol-adjacent companies be allowed sponsorships in all aspects of USA Swimming.
Under the approved guidelines, companies ‘primarily known for being a restaurant that serve(s) alcohol,” like Chili’s or Applebee’s, or if “alcohol, liquor, bar, pub, distillery, etc., is not directly referenced in the name of the establishment,” (ex. Springfield Beverage) will not have restrictions.
In addition to USA Swimming itself, regulations allow for teams to seek sponsorship from the above-mentioned companies, where they could be promoted on team websites, adult-targeted communications, or at adult-focused venues and activities.
Team names will still not be allowed to include alcohol references, as has been done with other brands, like Tucson Ford Aquatics in Arizona. Additionally, alcohol sponsors will not be allowed at non-senior, national level events in heat sheets. USA Swimming staff would be allowed to approve exceptions for a “unique or extenuating circumstance.”