Religion before AFL for 'Dogs president - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Religion before AFL for 'Dogs president

By Adam Cooper and Melissa Jenkins 14/09/2009 07:01:07 PM Comments (0)

Traditional religion will come before AFL beliefs this weekend for Western Bulldogs president David Smorgon, whose Jewish faith prevents him attending his side's preliminary final.

This weekend marks the Jewish New Year, and Smorgon's Sabbath commitments mean he cannot be at the MCG on Friday night, when the Bulldogs and St Kilda vie for a berth in the grand final.

Smorgon said it would be difficult not attending the game, but admitted it was a good problem to have.

"You work with your team all year to play finals and being a preliminary final with a grand final opportunity to stake, of course it will be difficult," he said on Monday.

"But for me it's first thing's first as far as I'm concerned and the guys will know I'm watching them (on television).

"I'm very glad I have that issue to decide.

"Unlike previous years of not being in the finals, this year it's an issue, but everyone at the club is understanding of my position and they respect that position."

Bulldogs captain Brad Johnson said he understood his president's decision not to attend was based on religious beliefs.

Former Melbourne president Joseph Gutnick found himself in a similar situation in 2000, when the Demons were in the grand final, but he could not attend.

Being an Orthodox Jew, Gutnick also could not watch the game on the television or listen to the radio.

"If I was strictly Orthodox you wouldn't watch it on TV or listen to it," Smorgon said.

"But given I'm a traditional Jewish person I'll have dinner with the family and then watch it on television.

"But I'm a shocking TV watcher, and I don't think it will be any different this week other than if we're 10 goals ahead."

Smorgon said he had known of his predicament since October, when the AFL released the 2009 fixture.

But he only informed the Bulldogs after they beat the Brisbane Lions last Friday night, which put them in the preliminary final.

The Bulldogs are chasing their first premiership since 1954 and St Kilda their first since 1966.

The Saints' maiden premiership win 43 years ago was a significant date for the club's many Jewish fans, as they could not watch the win over Collingwood because it was the Jewish Day of Atonement.

The Saints' Ian Synman, a Jew, was given permission to play.

The Day of Atonement will not be a factor for either Smorgon or St Kilda fans this year, as it falls on the Sunday-Monday after the grand final.

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