GOOD Friday football.
It’s a topic that divided sports lovers – of the AFL variety – right across the nation in the lead-up to the Easter weekend, dominating talk back radio and featuring prominently in discussions across all news mediums.
Those in favour of the idea flouted the ‘why not?’ point of reasoning – ‘I’m not Christian, so why shouldn’t I be able to watch footy on Good Friday?’ was a common theme among pro-footy fanatics.
Those against often took the contrasting stance that ‘the Easter celebration is sacred – it’s disrespectful to host a sporting fixture on a Christian holiday commemorating Jesus’ crucifixion’.
But which argument has most merit?
According to the 2011 Census, more than 61 per cent of Australians identified as being of the Christian faith – however, the most recent National Church Life survey has only 15 per cent of Christians attending church more than once per month.
Did the AFL hosting the Good Friday match between North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs – which was attended by more than 42,000 spectators and watched by more than one million people Australia-wide – infuriate 12 million Christians (as of 2011) currently dwelling in this country?
If it did, they haven’t been all that vocal about it.
In fact, playing sport on Good Friday isn’t new to Australia.
The NRL has held Good Friday fixtures for more than 20 years, while the A-League does the same.
Our overseas ally, the United States, also schedules sport on the day (although sport could almost be considered a religion of its own for many Americans).
So has the AFL shown disrespect by electing to hold a Good Friday game, or is it simply catching up with the rest of the competition?
The answer to that question remains subjective, depending on one’s beliefs – what is certain, however, is that following its success, Good Friday football is likely to remain locked into the AFL calendar for years to come.