The news that Brisbane will host the 2032 Olympic games, together with the first Tokyo Olympic competition games on TV on Wednesday night (Australia vs NZ in women’s soccer) put sport back in the headlines. To watch the Matilda’s (our soccer team) playing in front of an empty stadium was eerie. The effort various codes are going to keep our major football codes playing, so we can watch games televised, is monumental.
One of the recent exposure sites in Melbourne is the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Another is AAMI Park, where Australia played France in Rugby Union last week. Even in COVID shy Melbourne, the sports show must go on.
Of course, all major football codes did have a season of being shut down last year. Almost everything was shut down, except for the dogs and horse races.
All of this, while churches cannot gather. It is a clear picture of what our culture worships, what it idolises, and what it is addicted to. Australia worship sports, we idolise our sports stars, we feel like we belong to something bigger when we are part of a nation barracking for our country, or fan base supporting our team. We are distracted by sports from the hollowness of 21st-century life. And Australians, and our governments, are addicted to gambling.
My argument is not that the government is picking on churches. I believe that the restrictions we face are in keeping with other restrictions as placed on industry, or retail, or hospitality. My marvel is that such exceptions are made for ‘games’.
There is something about being a creature, who has been created to worship, to live for something bigger, to idolise, that is eternal, and yet so misplaced in the present world.
Rev David Rietveld