There are renewed calls for alcohol sponsorship of sport to be banned ahead of the AFL and NRL grand finals.
Analysis shows one-third of complaints made to the Alcohol Review Board (AARB) over the past five years were sport-related, prompting renewed calls for alcohol sponsorship of sport to be banned.
A report released by the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth at Curtin University and Cancer Council WA shows from March 2012 to March 2017 a total of 939 complaints were made to the AARB, 32 per cent were sport-related complaints.
Around two-thirds of the sport-related complaints were about alcohol sponsorship of sport.
Ads classified as 'sponsorship' included signage at sports events, logos on uniforms and commentary during sports games.
The sports to dominate the complaints were cricket (43), motor racing (42), AFL (40) and NRL (39).
One of the "concerning" complaints was in relationship to a TV ad promoting a brewing company that was broadcast around 2pm during the 2016 AFL Grand Final. The complainant had concerns about the high number of children who would have seen the ad.
"The high number of complaints received in relation to these sports is in line with the level of community concern shown in public opinion surveys," say the authors of the report.
A separate national survey, released in tandem with the report, found more than seven out of 10 Australian adults want TV ads promoting alcohol to be phased out at times when children are likely to be watching sports broadcasts - including the AFL and NRL grand finals.
The majority, 80 per cent, of survey participants said they were concerned about the current levels of exposure children have to alcohol promotion.
Health experts says it's time the long-running relationship between alcohol and sport came to an end.
"While alcohol and sport are so closely connected, children and young people will continue to be expose to unacceptably high levels of alcohol marketing," said Cancer Council WA Nutrition and Physical Activity Manager Steve Pratt.
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) is urging the federal government to show leadership on this issue.
"There is good evidence that tells us the more young people are sold this narrative of alcohol going hand-in-hand with sport, the sooner they likely to start drinking and to abuse alcohol as they get older," said RACP President Dr Catherine Yelland.
"The government, through its regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, must take a stronger leadership role in this issue. An important first step is to close an existing loophole that allows alcohol advertisements to air during weekend sports programs before 8.30pm," said Dr Yelland.
As an emergency department physician, Dr Sarah Dalton sees first hand the impact alcohol has on young people and their families and says restricting alcohol sponsorship of sport is about ensuring the safety and health of Australia's younger generation.
"Alcohol affects the development of the brain as it forms and matures throughout adolescence. Young people have a propensity to combine high-risk drinking with other high-risk activities, increasing the potential for accidental injury both to themselves and to others," Dr Dalton said.