It’s Good Friday. It’s a public holiday, a day off. The hot cross buns have been eaten, and now it’s time to relax. But what’s on? No live footy. Why not?
On a quiet day, would a game of footy be in order?
The NRL certainly think so, and have two games scheduled. Super 14 rugby plays on Good Friday. Overseas, football leagues around the world schedule games; so too does the NBA and Major League Baseball.
But the AFL continues to hold out and no games are scheduled on Good Friday.
But do the reasons stack up?
The first reason given is religious sensitivities, showing respect to Christian traditions. But are AFL fans more religious than fans of other codes that makes it okay for them to play and not the AFL?
And is it a problem for Christians to attend football on Good Friday? As a Christian myself, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. My church has a Good Friday service at 9am. Most other churches have their Good Friday services at a similar time.
By the afternoon, the religious observances are over – so there’s plenty of time to get to the footy.
There is no clash.
Christian footy fans have been used to 1pm starts on Sundays for years. We know how to get from church to the footy.
And not all Australians are Christians. We have people of other faiths, and play on during their religious occasions. We play during the Jewish Sabbath, during Passover and Yom Kippur.
We play day games during Islam’s Ramadan. And through the holy days of other religions. Even within Christianity not all dates are aligned, and we play on Orthodox Good Friday. Why do we show respect to one branch of one religion but not to others?
The second reason given is the Royal Childrens’ Hospital Appeal, which Channel 7 televises in Victoria. It’s a valid concern – it’s a big event in Melbourne and to have another event on could detract from that.
But the Hospital Appeal is only shown in Victoria, and isn’t a factor around the rest of Australia. Matches involving a Victorian team may divert attention from the Hospital Appeal, but not all the AFL’s teams are Victorian.
In two years’ time our league will have 18 teams, 8 coming from outside Victoria. A match between the non-Victorian teams would have little impact on the Hospital Appeal, but provide a footy fix for the non-Victorian supporters.
That could easily be arranged by Channel 7 showing the Appeal in Victoria but taking an additional game elsewhere in the long weekend in Victoria only; while televising the Good Friday game around the rest of Australia.
Two new teams are coming, in Gold Coast and West Sydney. And although the tradition has been to not play on Good Friday, new teams provides the opportunity to create new traditions.
GWS v Gold Coast FC on Good Friday evening would be a winner.
Televised on Channel 7 except in Victoria, it would showcase the game on an otherwise quiet evening. It would have little if any impact on the Hospital Appeal in Victoria, but provide an extra opportunity to show some footy to the rest of Australia.
How about it AFL?