There are two very loud, very important sides of me that have been waging a war in my brain for the past 16 hours or so. One that realises and accepts the importance of limiting social movement as much as possible so as to flatten the coronavirus curve and steer us all out of the current misery as safely as possible. The other that desires, very badly, to see big meaty men bumping meat.
After a protracted deliberation period, the AFL announced last night that the 2020 men’s season will commence tonight, as scheduled, with Richmond taking on Carlton at an otherwise empty MCG.
That will kickstart what the AFL is calling a 17-round/153-game season that will feature 16-minute quarters, which the league claims gives it the “flexibility” to complete the season over as many as 40 weeks.
Shortening the season by 6 rounds while vastly opening the timeframe for the season to run realistically means the AFL isn’t just preparing, they’re expecting the season to encounter several league-wide 14-day quarantine shutdowns, meaning they’re expecting several players to inevitably contract COVID-19.
That’s dumb as shit. That’s deeply fucking stupid. That’s irresponsible, unconscionable, and borderline unethical.
There’s no chance in hell the league should have even considered commencing the season tonight. An administration that’s been so doggedly opposed to compromise in the past is now bending over backwards to squeeze the game like Play Doh because, suddenly, we’re faced with a situation where certain folk might make a little less money.
So with compromised quarters, stop-start season scheduling, no fans in the stands, and no pubs to go watch the games in, this whole entire experiment we’re embarking on – which could have been delayed for a few months and potentially re-started as normal – now looms as one long pre-season where the weather slowly gets shittier and nothing feels like it actually counts.
But then the immediate counterpoint to that is that because everything absolutely sucks right now, I want – so badly – to see some 22-year-old spindly-haired berk from Wonthaggi roost a torp through the big sticks from 65 out.
I want to spend at least some of these lonely, physically and mentally draining isolation hours watching Jeremy Howe put stud marks on some idiot’s shoulders.
Screaming at the TV in my living room at the Essendon midfield’s baffling inability to secure a clearance seems, to me, like a much, much healthier use of my time than catching up on the latest 10,000 hellish global updates that have occurred in the last minute.
So it’s conflicting. I don’t know how to feel about it, realistically. I don’t know what to make of any of it.
Part of me is glad that, from tonight, there’s at least some version of normality set to continue. But a much larger part of me knows that it’s really fucking stupid that it is.
Game on, I guess.Image: Getty Images / Michael Wilson