The Night Was Made For Music

Sports Headline: Herald - Sun Newspaper, Melbourne, Australia Tuesday September 14, 2004

"NIGHT AT THE OPERA" - As 53,356 fans braved the cold on Saturday night, AFL bosses were hot-footing it to listen to Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli."

Here was a story about the two major administrative heavyweights of the Australian Football League (AFL) league CEO Andrew Demetriou and chairman Ron Evans choosing to attend a major musical event rather than remain and watch one of the major deciding matches in a sport they preside over.

That football fans might be offended at such a choice is understandable. However, I think the action of these two gentlemen sends a clear message to the public. We need cultural balance in our lives. Whether the decision to attend Bocelli's concert over football because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, or their respective partners in life wanted to go is irrelevant. I'm sure that both of these gentlemen will agree it was an exhilarating and exciting experience.

It is a shame that these high level administrators did not consider the needs of their constituents when planning the season calendar, so that the 53,000 fans at the MCG could have their footy in the afternoon and be encouraged to go to Bocelli in the evening with them.

I am a firm believer in synchronicity. That the musical and theatrical life in the city of Melbourne can blend with the sporting life of this great city. When two high placed executives in the sporting world find the need for a life outside of sport this cannot be ignored in a city with as much musical and theatrical activity and talent as New York and London.

It is time that the major sporting organisations including the VRC, MCC, AFL, Grand Prix, take notice of the performing arts calendar and work with the performing arts community to encourage attendance at cultural events in the evening around the city after a day of racing, cricket or footy.

Demetriou and Evans may have put themselves in an awkward position with football fans by not supporting a finals match with their attendance for the duration of the game. Imagine what would happen if the artistic director of Opera Australia quietly disappeared from "opening night" to attend the "Grand Final". The highest level of dedication and passion is expected when filling such high level positions of responsibility.

Let's all work together so that everyone can go to everything (if they choose to).

“See you at the theatre!”

Henry Sachwald


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