You certainly don’t need a doctorate in societal studies to realize the world is a pretty miserable place right now, as it collectively battles its way through a crisis unlike any it has seen since World War II.
For most of us, this is unchartered territory. We have never experienced anything like it before, and hopefully we never will again. Worryingly, if the first few months of this potentially lengthy saga are anything to go by, we are struggling to deal with the fallout and there is no respite in sight.
Almost a quarter of a million people globally have now been infected with the devastating COVID-19 coronavirus which is ravaging its way through Asia, Europe and Northern America. By the time this article goes live, almost 10,000 lives would have been lost and that number is set to bulge significantly in coming weeks and months as the virus continues to gain a stronghold, most recently in Oceania, Africa and South America too. Nobody, nowhere, is safe.
Beyond the truly horrifying number of casualties, major cities all around the globe have turned chaotic. People have lost their minds and are acting irrationally – hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, non-perishable food products and anything else they believe to be of value. This behavior is truly bewildering, especially when considering grocery stores have committed to remaining open and filling shelves. At first I thought it was bizarre, yet now I realize this is just how the less intelligent people in this world live their lives, brainwashed by a sensationalist media that puts more stock in impressions and income than it does morals and responsible reporting.
Welcome to 2020, folks.
The chaos isn’t limited to just the grocery stores. People are terrified by this virus and pandemonium is ensuing in medical clinics too. Government warnings and educational efforts are not being heeded to and countless people with minor symptoms of other ailments are presenting at emergency departments world-wide, taking up the valuable time of nurses and doctors who need to be focused on those who are critically ill and facing a life or death situation.
If ever you needed an example of how selfish society has become, this is it.
Amidst the chaos that is contributing to peoples’ unease and anxiety is the taking away of most things humans enjoy and look forward to. Most of the world’s professional sporting leagues have cancelled or postponed their seasons and most of the local or collegiate sporting competitions have also been halted. Places of recreation and respite where socialization typically occurs are closed – pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms and pools. Weddings have been put on hold and countless birthday celebrations will go without candles as society tries its best to adjust to this new way of life where contact with loved ones is frowned upon.
Aside from the chaos at grocery stores and emergency departments, and the social isolation techniques being stressed by governments, the economy is absolutely fucked. Stock markets are shedding losses at historic rates, banks are slashing interest rates in hope of stabilizing the carnage, governments are hastily developing stimulus packages to keep households afloat, and job losses are widespread across many industries, most notably tourism, hospitality and recreation. Many millions of people have, or will find themselves in financial distress like they couldn’t have imagined in their most devastating of dreams.
The fear, of both the virus itself and its secondary ramifications, is completely justifiable. The strain on peoples’ mental health is real, and sadly, only going to get worse before this pandemic has ran its race.
In the matter of just a few short months, the world has changed dramatically. Nothing seems the same and there’s no immediate relief in sight. This thing, this new way of life, is probably going to linger around for at least six more months – possibly longer.
So now what?
Aside from the extensive measures put in place by governments all over the world to slow down the rate of spread – travel bans, self-isolation periods, rationing, working-from-home arrangements, lockdowns and more – communities have been forced to step back to a somewhat quieter way of life, spending more time at the home with family, watching television, playing video games, listening to music and entertaining themselves within closed confines.
This is where the heroic AFL stepped in…
As the governing body of the largest and most loved sport in Australia, the AFL, led by CEO Gillon McLachlan, knew it had an opportunity to give the public something it could look forward to during these unprecedented tough times. The easy option was to follow the trend of sporting bodies all over the world and postpone its season until further notice, citing a risk to player safety and a need to keep the community safe. However McLachlan knew this wasn’t in the best interest of the fans or the Australian nation.
Instead of taking the easy route, McLachlan and his team at AFLHQ commenced the painstaking task of engaging club officials, medical experts and government representatives all over the country in hope of finding a solution which could bring smiles back to the faces of millions of football fans nation-wide. It was a task undoubtedly filled with countless roadblocks and naysayers, however despite the odds being highly stacked against them, they forged a way through and ultimately found a way to give the fans – and the nation – something to look forward to, which in this current climate cannot be underestimated. A little bit of hope and normality to boost the nation’s spirits.
While the result was largely predictable, a comfortable 24 point win by Richmond despite some late resistance shown by a spirited Carlton side, the event itself was a roaring success. Despite the ban on attendees within the stadium, early reports suggest a record crowd for a season-opening fixture tuned in to watch, highlighting just how important this decision was from the AFL to proceed as planned.