The Roar
The Roar



The AFL show must go on

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16th March, 2020
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Two days out from the launch of the AFL season, and we don’t know if the AFL season will in fact be launched.

Debate rages online and in society at large, or what is left of it, about whether or not the league should forge on.

Of course it should.

The country isn’t quite on lock down, but we aren’t far off it. AFL clubs have been preparing for this for at least as long as toilet paper has been flying off the shelves.

From research and modelling that has been made available, Australia is currently doing well at flattening the coronavirus curve. There is still much work to do. It’s arguable that we are helped by a warmer climate, remote island location, and far less population density than Asia and Europe.

Businesses around the country are enforcing work-from-home edicts, and putting bans on interstate and international travel. People are taking personal responsibility and hitting less pubs, clubs and restaurants. Society is doing what it can to minimise risk, in line with government protocols.


Assuming quarantine practices have been sound in the football clubs, let’s let people chase a ball around an oval while they can.

An AFL footballer or a member of their family can go to the supermarket and pass 44 people on their way to the check-out. And those 44 people are not operating in a highly controlled environment like the players are.

Gillon McLachlan held a press conference yesterday and appeared on AFL360 afterwards. Whether listening to his words or reading between the lines, he kept referring to health, not just of the players, but of the industry.

Empty seats at the MCG

(Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

The industry can’t be funded unless games are played, which will mean huge pressure on the cash flow of each business connected to the AFL, and lead to mass job losses. Yes, all industries are facing this across Australia, but if AFL can avoid it or at least lessen the damage by squeezing out games, why wouldn’t they.

It’s not as if we are at Round 11 and there is cash banked up. Pre-Round 1 is the absolute worst time for this to happen. They have to get games in while they can, so no wonder they were thinking of cramming as many matches as possible into the next month.

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If the government dictates games shouldn’t go ahead based on the latest medical advice, then of course that must be followed. If an AFL-listed player tests positive to COVID-19, then all bets are off and each case must be treated separately.

Sport serves a greater purpose than being an end to itself. There is a greater good to be served here. People are anxious. People are uncertain. People are fearing for their jobs, their families, their lives.

They want their footy. They crave their footy. They need their footy. Let’s give it to them for as long as we can.