Unhealthy and health promoting sponsorship of male and female professional sporting teams in Australia

Publication Name

Health Promotion Journal of Australia


Issue Addressed: There are concerns that unhealthy industries may use sponsorships to align their brands with the increased popularity of professional women's sporting events. This study aimed to identify and compare the sponsors of Australian male and female professional sporting teams in relation to unhealthy industries (alcohol, gambling, discretionary food and drink, and venues) and health-promoting companies and organisations (charities, government departments, and educational institutions). Methods: A web-based scan was conducted from July to October 2021 to identify team and uniform sponsors, with descriptive statistics used to identify and compare results. Results: About one tenth of sponsors (team n = 269; 10.9%; uniform n = 62; 10.6%) were for unhealthy industries. Men's teams had a greater number of these sponsors as compared to women's teams. Just under 10% of sponsors were for health-promoting organisations (team n = 210; 8.5%; uniform n = 44; 7.5%), with women's teams more likely to have these sponsors as compared to men's teams. Conclusions: Professional sport provides an important opportunity to facilitate health-promoting rather than -harming sponsors. Health-promoting sponsors are more prominent in women's sport, but as women's professional sport continues to grow in popularity, there is a need for policy, funding, and support to prevent engagement with unhealthy industry sponsorship and create a level playing field with men's sport. So What?: Mechanisms should be developed to help sporting codes, particularly women's sport, to adopt business models that are not reliant on industries that cause harm. Establishing strong relationships with health-promoting organisations may provide alternative sponsorship opportunities for sporting teams.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



Link to publisher version (DOI)