The world’s greatest sport, Australian Rules football, has some problems at the moment. The recently re-vamped rules regulating when the ball has been forced out of bounds on purpose prompt much booing and bafflement in the stands. Likewise the high-tackle. Did the nippy rover duck into the knee that knocked him silly, or was flattened by an adversary’s contemptuous disregard for his safety? While these matters are moot, another aspect of the homegrown game is beyond dispute: its executives’ galloping hypocrisy.
Tonight (Friday, August 12) will see the first game of this weekend’s so-called Pride Game, which Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan is presenting as something akin to a manifestation of the AFL’s moral obligation to promote acceptance of the gay lifestyle. Just why a sporting code feels obliged to push alternate forms of human affection remains a mystery, one explained not at all by McLachlan’s conceit that the popularity of his code imposes an obligation “to lead” on this and other social issues. As Tim Blair points out, this agenda also includes preferential scholarships for Muslims, but adherents of no other creed. If you’re a devout Calathumpian who can slot six-pointers from the intersection of the boundary line and fifty, bad luck.
Given the bare-faced and discriminatory intent of that programme, it might be difficult to imagine a more blatant example of hypocrisy. Yet, as is so often the case with the AFL, it strives to exceed even its own worst standards.
Consider this week’s gay-themed game between Sydney and St Kilda, which will feature gay flags and, no doubt, many sermons.
What the AFL would not be pondered is another match, tonight’s contest between Footscray and Collingwood to be played at Etihad Stadium, which bears the name and enjoys the sponsorship of Abu Dhabi’s national airline. How are homosexuals treated in Abu Dhabi? Not well, not well at all, as being gay is a crime in itself, regardless of whether or not a happy couple, threesome or whatever actually engage in intimate caresses.
Nor does the hypocrisy stop there. One of tonight’s teams, the Magpies, is sponsored by Emirates, which offers club members substantial discounts on their fares. That airline is based in Dubai, where similar sanctions apply, and only yesterday a Canadian transsexual was summarily locked up immediately upon arrival.
If you happen to watch tonight’s game, bear all this in mind as the AFL prepares for its mardi gras match — a contest aimed at the betterment of the little people in the grandstands. Most will arrive for a sporting spectacle only to find that contest into the whitened sepulchre of the AFL’s social engineers.
Roger Franklin, who expects the Bulldogs to win by seven goals and will be betting accordingly, is the editor of Quadrant Online.