With the 2012 Olympic Games less than two weeks away, the fact that the hamburger giant McDonald's is the official restaurant sponsor has many seeing red for a variety of different reasons. From a poor example of healthy food options to their limiting of other restaurants from selling chips (fries), is McDonald's really the best choice for an Olympic sponsor?
As a parent who believes in my children eating healthy, the battle of Happy Meals is already something we face. Now, at the biggest sporting event, we have McDonald's promoting their unhealthy burgers and fries. Is the message we need to be sending to the next generation?
These 2012 Games are being promoted as an event that will inspire a generation to become healthy and fit. How can that be when McDonald's and Coke are the main sponsors? What message is that sending to this generation the Olympics hope to inspire? Personally, I would rather see sponsorships from companies that truly take health and nutrition into account. Wouldn't that be promoting the right message?
Now, while this sponsorship is drawing attention because of its unhealthy nature, it is not the only controversy surrounding the McDonald's sponsorship of the Games. As an American born to British parents, I have grown up with British cuisine and have been to England many times and always make sure to get some fish and chips when I am there. If apple pie is American, then fish and chips are as British as you can get.
However, those chips (or fries) are in jeopardy when it comes to the Olympic Games. McDonald's, as the official Olympic restaurant, has the sole right to sell fries at the Olympic venues. They have, however, agreed to allow those outlets that sell fish and chips to include chips in their menu but only if they are sold together. Selling the chips separately could find them having their doors closed.
A memo from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games was leaked to Twitter and warns that consumers refrain from causing problems when they are told they are unable to purchase authentic chips without the fish. They go as far as saying, "Please do not give the staff grief. This will only led (sic) to us removing fish and chips completely."
So not only is McDonald's promoting their unhealthy food at the greatest sporting event but they are trying to take the place of food that holds a long tradition in Britain. While I understand that the Olympics need to have sponsors for the event, I would think that they could be a little pickier when it comes to who they allow and the message these sponsors are sending. McDonald's and the Olympics just do not belong together.
Deborah Braconnier is a former athlete and avid sports and Olympics fan. She now works as a freelance writer and Featured Contributor for the Olympics and NFL and brings her love of sports to her writing. As a former medical professional, she promotes nutrition and fitness for everyone. Follow her on Twitter @fwcdeborah and @healthykidsgrow.