All eyes will be on America's top winter athletes as they compete in Sochi next month and it is a good bet a lot of youngsters will be looking up to those high-flying heroes as role models. The U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing organizations want to ensure those kids know that becoming a sports star means making responsible life choices in all areas, not just sports.
Last month they kicked off a partnership with ParentsEmpowered, a local campaign funded by the Utah Legislature to help reduce underage drinking through awareness and education.
With support from Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the state Health Department, Utah Highway Patrol, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others, ParentsEmpowered hopes to draw attention to the dangers of alcohol consumption by youths and to give parents the resources to help their kids make smart decisions.
Through the partnership, along with eye-catching signage and clever slogans, the groups hope to capitalize on the attention that will be focused on USSA's extremely successful skiers, snowboarders and aerialists.
With the growing popularity of the youth-oriented extreme sports culture, it's a good bet the message will have an impact. And it makes an important distinction for young aspiring athletes. While the athletes' fearless antics may look wild and reckless, they require split-second precision -- the first casualty of alcohol-consumption. Also, to attain that level of competition, the athletes must be in peak physical condition, also not compatible with drinking.
USSA's decision to support this worthy local campaign deserves community support, especially from parents of teenagers.
As the community learned a couple of months ago, when a large party was raided by law enforcement, local parents have lots of different approaches to teaching their children about alcohol consumption. And that is their prerogative. But no one can refute the facts that alcohol impairs everyone's judgment and, especially when mixed with youthful indiscretion, can lead to life-altering tragedies.
If you haven't already, log on to ParentsEmpowered.org to learn more and when you and your kids are cheering for the home team during the Olympics, slip in a comment that you've heard USSA team members say underage drinking is not cool.