The debate over whether sports and politics are mingling rages on as some fans slam the AFL for being “too bright,” while others insist the league must continue to push for inclusive initiatives like pride rounds and anti-racism measures .
The game’s top fan organization — the AFL Fans Association — released its annual survey, and an overwhelming majority of respondents said they were concerned the league wasn’t focusing on the right things or prioritizing it.
Typically, the group’s annual survey found that the issues fans were concerned about were more related to the matchday experience, the game, rule changes, referees and things like ticketing.
However, it seems that fans are now thinking more and more about social issues and how they manifest themselves in football; be it racist behavior, social initiatives like Pride rounds, or concerns about gambling’s prominence.
But not all. Fans were divided on whether sports and politics (social issues is probably a more relevant term) actually mix.
Swans fans cheer for their side during the club’s annual Pride clash against the Saints last year – but there’s no league-wide round just yet
The AFL Fan Association (pictured are Cats supporters at last year’s grand finals) has released its annual poll
Many fans believe the league should do more to tackle racism in the game and overwhelmingly said clubs should conduct an internal review of their treatment of Indigenous players
Spreading racism and reducing homophobia were the two main points that many fans said worried them.
66 percent of respondents thought the AFL could do more to fight racism, while 59 percent of fans wanted to see an annual Pride round, The Age revealed.
Worryingly, just under half (47%) of all fans had seen racist comments made towards a player – and the fact that 69% of respondents thought their club needed to conduct an investigation into the treatment of Indigenous players shows just how far the game progressed has yet to come when the time comes.
But not everyone said the two big social issues discussed in footy concern them — or should even be talked about.
“It is also clear from the qualitative comments that there is an overemphasis on the ‘alert agenda’, with some fans even questioning why questions on these topics are included in the fan survey,” said a spokesman for the AFL Fans Association.
Lance Franklin was one of the most vocal advocates for indigenous rights during his long career
Fans like this one bypassing Cats superstar Tom Hawkins after their big Finals win last year are bracing themselves for a big 2023 season
So much so that many fans feel the league and clubs should well and really keep their noses out, as ranking is the last of the six issues clubs should be worried about.
But the league will not budge.
“Nobody in our game or in the community deserves to be discriminated against and slandered because of their creed or race and there is simply no excuse for that.”
When it comes to tackling homophobia and gay vilification, while fans are essentially divided over the concept, the league has left the door open for a Pride round.
Clubs and the league are hastily throwing a rainbow sweater in the wake of the debacle of the Manly Seven saga, which was one of the NRL’s biggest controversies last season.
Lance Franklin dons the club’s rainbow Pride shirt at the Swans’ annual Pride clash against St Kilda
The Swans and St Kilda, on the other hand, have introduced education programs through their annual Pride match and leveraged rainbow initiatives – captain Callum Mills even criticized Manly at the time for not being an inclusive club.
While Hosch said the league may be open to a round of Pride, there were no immediate plans to get one.
Part of that is no doubt the fact that fans worried about a so-called ‘woke agenda’ and wanting the league to focus solely on football would be pushed even further afield.
And abuse, discrimination and homophobia could get even worse if it unfolds like the Manly or NBL scandals.
Pround2Play, an LGBTQI+ inclusion organization in esports, says “a lot of work needs to be done” before the AFL can consider a men’s Pride round – and fans may need convincing, too.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/afl/article-11821383/Fans-slam-AFL-focusing-woke-agenda-footy-amid-Pride-round-interest.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Fans are criticizing the AFL for focusing more on an “awakened agenda” than the footy amid the interest of the Pride round