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The NBA superstar’s comments invite more discussion on a well-worn subject

Tim Nelson
Updated: October 10, 2018

Purely by virtue of being the most famous athlete on the planet, LeBron James is also arguably the world’s most well-known wine connoisseur as well. Last NBA season saw LeBron post on Instagram fairly often about his love of good wine. It’s a hobby he’s kept up since relocating full-time to California as a member of the LA Lakers, thereby proving it wasn’t all just an effort to forget he was still stuck in Cleveland.  

While so far LeBron’s love of pricey wines has been little more than good fun, a recent declaration that he occasionally shares wine with his 14- and 11-year-old sons has reignited a debate about the appropriateness of drinking with your kids.

To a certain extent, it seems like one’s reaction to LeBron’s comments is dependent on cultural context. In France, for example, it’s not uncommon for parents to let their kids enjoy a taste of the country’s most popular export. The argument in such cases is that exposing teens (and tweens) to alcohol in small doses and controlled environments makes it less likely that they’ll feel the need to binge drink behind closed doors.

There doesn’t seem to be much beyond anecdotal evidence to back up this claim. A study of 10,000 British children born around the year 2000 found that half had tried a little alcohol by the age of 14. But while “parents of socially advantaged children may believe that allowing children to drink will teach them responsible use [and] inoculate them against dangerous drinking,” there is “little research to support these ideas.”

That’s not to mention the possible risk of damage to the adolescent brain that can occur when teens drink alcohol even in small quantities. Given that 14-year-old Bronnie is already a highly-touted basketball recruit who some believe could join his dad in the NBA, getting him into the wine game at such an early age may lead to long-term memory impairment that could ultimately impact his basketball IQ.

Still, there’s something to be said for quality father-son bonding and training your kids to discern the qualities that define good wine at an early age. As long as LeBron’s kids don’t start saying “Sheesh!” on social media all the time like their dad does, concerned citizens and NBA fans shouldn’t have much to worry about.


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