For those who do not know, I work as a School Crossing Supervisor. Last week I left my stop sign (lollipop) behind. I had one of those unfortunate moments and I forgot it. I came back the next day and it was not in my car. Emergency?
Oh yes it was. I had to contact the school, the council. And, after waiting fifteen minutes for a replacement stop sign. I was able to finally perform my job.
I was asked to inquire of the people who lived in the street where I left my stop sign, if they saw anything. I could not wear the fluro jacket because that is ONLY for the crossing. The moment I told them I was a Crossing Supervisor their demeanour changed and were very willing to answer my questions.
One lady thanked me for doing my job. I knew there was a lot of good will towards School Crossing Supervisors, I just did not know how much till then.
Now to football
Let’s translate this situation to sport, to football. The coach of Hawthorn, Alistair Clarkson has a LOT of good will. His team, the Hawks, could finish on the bottom of the ladder this year and he would still have a job next year. Winning THREE Premierships in a row will do that.
The same cannot be said of St. Kilda's coach Alan Richardson. At the start of the year the expectation was that if they lost the game against Gold Coast he would be sacked. Not much good will around for him. St. Kilda won the game against Gold Coast and have won a further four games games having beaten Carlton this weekend. Carlton also have a coach who is loosing good will.
The round nine capitulation of Carlton to the Giants was a lamentable moment. The young Carlton team was given a hiding as the Giants scored 138 points to 45. Carlton coach Brendon Bolton has enough good will to survive this loss. Carlton fans have noticed the visible improvements. They appear to lend Bolton enough good will to see him survive that shocking defeat. While Carlton lost to St.Kilda this weekend it was not the drastic capitulation as it was against the Giants. Bolton still has his job.
In contrast to Bolton and Richardson, Brad Scott has just left North Melbourne. Not wanting the issue to be a weight for the club and the players for the rest of the year he is gone as of round ten. It was clinical and surprised many on the Friday night as news of it surfaced. The timing seems right and without needing to be pushed Scott has jumped. North Melbourne fans should realise the gracious nature of this exit.
When it comes to good will in football we should not forget the impossible situation of Adam Goodes. For those who forgot, Adam Goodes, Sydney Swans champion, Dual Brownlow Medalist, Dual Premiership player, All-Australian four times, AFL Rising Star 1999, Australian of the Year 2014. That list has some good will there, has it not? If there was any good will it dried up around 2013-2015 as Goodes was booed continually by opposition crowds.
A documentary of Goodes last years “The Final Quarter” will be shown at the Sydney Film Festival in June of this year. It has already been shown to the AFL heads, including club presidents. If you can read Collingwood President Eddie McGuire's response, it is heartening.
Nicky Winmar was able to point to who he is, his culture and his decent. Cathy Freeman held two flags in celebration of her Gold medal. Goodes attempted a celebration he learned from young indigenous players. A shout out to those young men. It was during that seasons indigenous round. Possibly starting a tradition of indigenous celebration in the AFL akin to the Haka. It did not work like Winmar or Freeman.
Does good will come when you perform well? When you perform something admirably? When you succeed? I get good will for looking after the safety of other peoples children. Teachers do that everyday. Police do that every day. While Police come with the weight of the law, teachers do not. What is the difference?
A coach in the AFL is judged on his or her performance. The win/loss percentage is the mark they are judged by, simple and easy to explain. Players appear to be judged by their standing in the game, or as good blokes. I am unsure of that as some players get redemption arcs while others do not.
I believe we do tar others with a brush that we did not make, but, one that we were given. We do judge a book by its cover. Sport reflects the culture of the people who play it and the fans that watch it. Good will is given, not just because of technique, or because of skill, but by the dictates of the culture. Those who fall in its favoured zone will find good will as I did. Others outside it will not.
This is in stark contrast with the Gospel and the command to love your neighbour as you love yourself. The parable of the Good Samaritan lends itself to ask why the Samaritan had to be highlighted as good? Why are Nicky Winmar and Cathy Freeman good? Why, for so many was Adam Goodes not?
Phillip Hall gladly suffers cold and wet mornings on the roadside as a School Crossing Supervisor. He also is writing his minor thesis on Hope and Technology at the University of Divinity in Melbourne.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.