AFL makes good decision on Good Friday football

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By bazzalencko, bazzalencko is a Roar Rookie

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    The AFL is regularly accused of becoming too involved in social matters.

    Often overlooked is their responsibility as an Australian organisation – and a prominent one at that – to uphold Australian values. It is for this reason that the AFL has made a wise decision to resist growing public pressure and abstain from scheduling matches on Good Friday.

    Those against scheduling Good Friday games argue fans, teams and players who normally participate in the day would be affected. Supporters of Good Friday matches state the benefits of another AFL blockbuster and the opportunity to promote a charitable cause such as the popular Good Friday appeal. There are cogent arguments for and against the issue however there are fundamental points that indicate the issue should not be up for debate in the first place.

    As a pronounced entity, the AFL has worked to earn its status in the community. The AFL realise the value of such a profile as they rightfully leverage this status to further promote the game and attract new supporters. All codes have a social responsibility; this is even more prevalent for the AFL due to its standing across the country thus they cannot avoid the social responsibilities that accompany their stature.

    In order to maintain their status and popularity the AFL must ensure they continue to appeal to as many denominations as possible whilst ensuring they do not alienate sectors of the community. At first, this may seem like an argument for playing a Good Friday game. This may indeed please a large percentage of football fans; it would certainly risk alienating a significant sector of the community – including non-football fans.

    Comparisons are drawn with another respected day on the calendar: ANZAC day and the popularity of the ANZAC day fixture.

    ANZAC day is a public holiday to allow for people to attend the dawn service, to commemorate fallen soldiers and to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy in this great country; a public holiday is relevant despite many residents choosing not to attend any event of significance.

    ANZAC day football exists because the day – in some part – celebrates the freedom and lifestyle we enjoy today. Australian football is an adequate example thus it was successfully argued that it would be a fitting tribute – provided the game paid due respects to the day. Regardless of whether you favour ANZAC day football, the AFL game does not interfere with the scheduling of other significant ANZAC day activities.

    ANZAC day is meaningful to us as a nation so we duly decide how best to honour the day. Good Friday has very different significance and is not a day for Australians alone.

    The public holiday is granted predominantly so Christians may observe the religious significance of the day. The key event is the mass said all over the world at 3pm, however there are other significant activities that occur throughout the day.

    While we as a nation may choose how we wish to observe events in our own history, we do not have such authority over events with religious significance – only choice to align with the religion in the first place.

    Many attend the ANZAC day clash as their tribute to the day and the game has subsequently honoured the day with suitable deeds; the minute silence, the last post, the national anthem, the guards of honour etc.

    Good Friday is more than a charity drive for a hospital, yet the scheduling of an AFL game would almost certainly clash with the significant activities of Good Friday. In what way could the game adequately acknowledge the day’s original significance?

    If the AFL neglected to suitably recognise the day it would be unable to justify the game as a tribute, so they would risk the scheduling being seen as a decision to disassociate with the day’s significance.

    Research may indicate an increasing number of Australians for which Good Friday holds no significance. Similarly, we are a multi-cultural society with people from many different beliefs so if the game intends to truly embrace the people, should we not observe days of significance in other religions?

    Perhaps risking disassociation to Christianity would be acceptable given the AFL is not a government institution, nor does it recognise other religions specifically. The difficulty is that the AFL has traditionally observed this day, so it would be a deliberate decision to shift from this position. While it may be controversial to announce a multi-cultural round or an indigenous round, it is far less controversial to be inclusive.

    Diverse as we are, Australia currently identifies as a Christian nation. Good Friday does not hold significance in most non-Christian cultures thus they do not have a Good Friday public holiday.

    In Australia it is a holiday because as a nation we recognise the significance of the day, even if individual residents may not. If we schedule a game during the day on Good Friday, we are asking people to attend that game instead of the events the day is held sacred for. If we cease to revere the day for its religious significance, we remove the very reason for the holiday.

    The only acceptable way would be to schedule the game at night. It would allow time to attend religious events, for those who so choose.

    However, if the argument for a Good Friday game is based on increasing numbers of people not observing the day, we are catering for a crowd who do not acknowledge the day whilst allowing respect for those who do. If those who do are truly in the minority, then the public holiday becomes redundant.

    When we reach this point, scheduling a Friday night match on Good Friday is no different from any other Friday. When attendances and revenue dropped for the Royal Melbourne Show, the public holiday was removed. Those in regional Victoria and other states do not receive the Melbourne Cup holiday because even if they support it, they do not attend in high numbers regularly. Yet enough people support and participate in the day’s main event to justify the holiday.

    The debate for a Good Friday game therefore is not about whether a game should be scheduled but whether the day itself still holds enough reverence to enough people that a public holiday is justified. If attendances for Good Friday services drop to insignificant rates, perhaps it would be justifiable to eliminate the public holiday. Like less popular religions in Australia, people could use an annual leave day to observe the religious significance of Good Friday while the remainder of Australians could work as normal and wander over to the MCG for the routine 7pm night game.

    To challenge the reverence of the day is to challenge the need for the day itself. The government may accept people of all backgrounds, cultures and faiths and so it should. It is however a government aligned to Christianity and unless there is a shift in the government to be so aligned, the nation’s largest code cannot justifiably schedule activities against the most sacred of days in the current calendar.

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    The Crowd Says (55)

    • April 8th 2012 @ 9:55am
      oikee said | April 8th 2012 @ 9:55am | ! Report

      Rugby league plays games on Good Friday, always has, no big deal and they have the show in Sydney on the same day as well, again, no big deal and did not stop a record crowd for the Bunnies either.
      AFL played a game thursday night no, ? the NRL dont play thursday night, they just play good Friday instead. Always have done.
      Whatever you posted above is meaningless to most aussies, we buy fish and chips and watch Good Friday footy, whatever is on.

      • April 9th 2012 @ 11:11am
        Goanajack said | April 9th 2012 @ 11:11am | ! Report

        The record crowd at the Bunnies had everything to do with people being at the Show finishing up at the footy next door by design

    • April 8th 2012 @ 10:24am
      jamesb said | April 8th 2012 @ 10:24am | ! Report

      I agree Oikee, I think the AFL is making a bigger issue out of not playing on Good Friday than what it actually is.

      Like you mentioned, people in Sydney go to the easter show on Good Friday, so why not go to a game of footy, which so happens to be next door.

      If people want entertainment on Good Friday, whether its the show or the footy, than so be it.

      Also lets not forget, not everyone has easter on at the same time.

      As far as ANZAC Day is concerned, is it becoming more commercialsed if you want to compare it to Good Friday?…………and perhaps football codes do take advantage of.

      The point I’m making is Rugby League always had a match on Good Friday, but the NRL never made a big deal out of it, such as describing it the biggest event apart from the grand final.

      With these public holidays, whether its ANZAC or Good Friday you need to have some sort of purity and perspective in place.

    • April 8th 2012 @ 11:03am
      drama city said | April 8th 2012 @ 11:03am | ! Report

      Typical Melbourne stuffiness. So much for the sporting capital of the world. In continental Europe, the home of Christianity, everybody works on Good Friday (vendredi Saint, karfreitag) and can enjoy any sports they want to watch after they get home.
      As one roar poster noted last week, Melbourne didn’t allow AFL to be played on Sundays in the early 1980s but relied on games being transmitted from Sydney – ‘sleaze city’ to Melburnians – one of the reasons no doubt for the Swans being relocated there.
      I’m sure one day AFL will allow games to be played on Good Friday and AD will announce it as another ground-breaking initiative by the world-famous AFL in breaking down multicultural barriers in Australia.

      • April 8th 2012 @ 7:30pm
        BigAl said | April 8th 2012 @ 7:30pm | ! Report

        “…continental Europe, the home of Christianity…” – what the ?????

      • April 9th 2012 @ 11:14am
        Goannajack said | April 9th 2012 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        I think you mean Sin City or drive by shooting town perhaps…

    • April 8th 2012 @ 11:05am
      aaron said | April 8th 2012 @ 11:05am | ! Report

      I’m a life long footy fan but I get annoyed when I see the AFL trot out nonsense like “playing footy is like fighting in war” on Anzac Day. It’s quite disrespectful, it turns it into a gimmick.

      Can you imagine what they would do on Good Friday? How long before they start calling Riewoldt the saviour reborn? Perhaps the teams would drag out a giant crucifix to centre square?

      I shudder at the thought.

      Needlessly we also forget how many community and grassroots footy clubs play community matches on Good Friday. Our club raised $15,000 on Friday! We’d be unable to get that if the AFL seized control of Good Friday.

      • Roar Guru

        April 8th 2012 @ 11:37am
        The Cattery said | April 8th 2012 @ 11:37am | ! Report

        The VFL/AFL has not played footy on Good Friday for 115 years, and you’re already imagining the headlines if they were to play on Good Friday? Seems a bit rich.

        Thie AFL constantly cops it for over-commercialising everything, and yet they are the ones to stick to tradition more than any other sport.

        • April 9th 2012 @ 9:26am
          aaron said | April 9th 2012 @ 9:26am | ! Report

          They cop it because they do over-commercialise everything.

          As you’ve said the minute they play on Good Friday they’re chucking away 115 years of history in pursuit of $$$$$.

          Nothing more, nothing less. Hence it should never be allowed to happen. Good Friday is a day for community footy and ever should it be so.

          • April 9th 2012 @ 6:53pm
            JamesP said | April 9th 2012 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

            So its OK to pay money to go watch the VFL, but not the AFL?

          • Roar Guru

            April 9th 2012 @ 9:47pm
            The Cattery said | April 9th 2012 @ 9:47pm | ! Report

            But it’s a bit rich criticising them before they’ve actually done it!

            Yeh, those mongrels over-commercialise everything, and it may have taken more than 115 years – but I just knew they were finally going to play on Good Friday – the mongrels!!

    • April 8th 2012 @ 11:10am
      Michael said | April 8th 2012 @ 11:10am | ! Report

      A holey argument. Couldn’t disagree more.

    • Roar Pro

      April 8th 2012 @ 11:48am
      JottingsOnRugby.com said | April 8th 2012 @ 11:48am | ! Report

      Sport has been played on Good Friday for a long time in other Australian cities, and in Britain all football codes have played every Good Friday (except war years) since the 1890s – that’s over 100 years of playing & attending football on Good Fridays in these Christian nations. The most celebrated part of the Barbarian FC’s history has been its famous Easter tours of Wales, with the opening game on Good Friday. This AFL stance is about Melbourne. There is no national debate going on or aversion about Good Friday and taking gate-money or ruining the day’s solemnity. if Victorians were serious about the religious significance of Good Friday as why sport should not be played, they would have pay-tv’s sports channels cut off on Good Fridays.

      • Roar Guru

        April 8th 2012 @ 12:21pm
        The Cattery said | April 8th 2012 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

        One state cut off pay TV? Is that a serious suggestion?

        • Roar Pro

          April 8th 2012 @ 1:58pm
          JottingsOnRugby.com said | April 8th 2012 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

          @ The Cattery – of course it’s not serious. Just pointing out the absurdity – paying to watch sport at a Melbourne ground on Good Friday is bad, paying to watch sport from your Melbourne sofa is ok – if paying to watch sport on Good Friday is the transgression we’re concerned about, both are the same dire heathen act.

          • April 8th 2012 @ 7:18pm
            Cugel said | April 8th 2012 @ 7:18pm | ! Report

            If you are religious, I think you’re pretty much immune to accusations of absurdity.

          • April 8th 2012 @ 11:40pm
            Nathan of Perth said | April 8th 2012 @ 11:40pm | ! Report

            Yeah, terrible argument.

      • April 8th 2012 @ 12:23pm
        Nathan of Perth said | April 8th 2012 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

        The WAFL happily plays a marquee game on that day.

        • Roar Guru

          April 9th 2012 @ 9:49pm
          The Cattery said | April 9th 2012 @ 9:49pm | ! Report

          Nathan
          so do other competitions in Victoria, and that’s one of the arguments in favour of not playing AFL footy on Good Friday, becuase it gives some oxygen to second and third tier comps, which sounds a like a pretty good reason to be honest.

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