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Media release: AFL's scheduled Good Friday match in 2017 another win for market, not for people

Bishop Philip Huggins has expressed his regret that the AFL has caved in to market forces

October 26 2016The AFL’s decision to schedule a match on Good Friday for the first time in 2017 is another win for the relentless and commodifying logic of the market overwhelming all other considerations, Bishop Philip Huggins, an Assistant Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, said today.

Bishop Huggins, a passionate Geelong supporter, said the decision showed that after years of respecting the sanctity of Good Friday for millions of Australians, including football fans, the AFL had succumbed to market forces for which holy days/holidays were just another opportunity to make a profit.

“We have always been ‘kicking against the wind’ but the AFL has been one entity that has exercised restraint – not least because many people of faith who also enjoy football have conveyed the depth of their feeling about Good Friday,” Bishop Huggins said.

“But now, in 2017AD, this is to change.

“The trouble with this approach to life is that the heart dies a little each time the relentless and commodifying logic of the market overwhelms all other considerations. Even the most sacred days, for which our forebears had the wisdom to make holy(i) days, are then invaded.

“We are then left with a society full of products but short of meaning. That is what is happening and no amount of marketing spin fills the void.”

Bishop Huggins said Good Friday was Good because it spoke to people about the profound love of God, so visible in Jesus.

“The meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection is so profound that our forebears knew they needed separate days – holy days – to take this in and live by the truth it revealed,” he said. “They knew, for their own sakes, that they must keep these days free of distraction.

“Hence, we in the Anglican Church have taken a lead in reminding our community of this wisdom amidst the endless marketing of more products to distract and trivialise the gift of life, even on holy days.

“The fact that faithful fans will be hurt and further alienated is swept aside as a consideration. Behind the rationales lies mere greed – greed and a refusal to think there is any wisdom in traditions that have fed the souls of millions for countless centuries, across all kinds of cultures.”

Bishop Huggins said the AFL’s restraint until now in not scheduling matches on Good Friday when other codes had done so was appreciated and he urged the League to reconsider its decision to change this practice, even at this stage.