I feel for those in Melbourne’s sports administration right now. Not those in the big leagues. Those attempting to run junior football competitions. Tennis clubs that have been operating for a few weeks. Golf courses. Surf Life Saving Clubs. Indoor Sport Centres. Even those trying to get a winter cricket side running.
It is not just sporting clubs it is also music venues, theatres, bands, orchestras. Heck even drive inns. All of our social activities in Melbourne have become suspect. Going to the big shopping centre is a risk.
The big supermarkets have sneeze guards, Hair dressers wear masks. Pizza delivery is non-contact. But masks are still not standard wear for many. That still surprises me.
Grounds Wanted Now!
In June the all clear was given and sporting clubs were swamping local councils with demands for grounds again. Imagine the parks and rec workers suddenly under the pump to schedule the hundred or more grounds at speed. What used to take months now has to be done in weeks. These people are heroes.
Add to that the restrictions, new regulations and construction of the new forms for all of them. For small clubs with limited finances and small numbers this is a huge weight. Unlike the big leagues who can clean whole stadiums and employ extra security. The numbers versus the threat of infection is just too much for some.
There will always be those who find fault or flaws with anything. Ten thousand people have refused to be tested in Melbourne. Reasons for not getting tested ranged from fake news to fear of loosing their job if they call in sick.
Consider the weight of those who could travel across the city desperate to play. We all know of those who play at the same club yet live far away. Reasons are always valid for the travel. This is where all your mates are. It is where the family has played for generations.
Numbers are a premium in all sports. As those who have tried to coach or put a team together know all too well. Long Friday nights are spent calling around to fill gaps. Imagine that pressure multiplied now that any child with a sniffle will be sent away. Then there are the little hiccups that could happen.
Shall I set the scene?
Saturday morning dew still on the ground. The parents are lining up in their cars to drop off the kids. Kyle is getting out of the car and forgets his inhaler. Mum gets out halting the line of cars. It is a reflex parental response. Unfortunately the entry warden hired does not know who Kyle is. This ground has three games scheduled for the day. Time is crucial.
The warden is doing her job by telling Kyle’s mum to get back in her car and drive on. Kyle’s Mum knows that Kyle will need his inhaler at half time. Motherly instinct kicks in and she stands her ground as all mothers do.
Other parents are waiting behind and the horns start honking. In the car behind Kyle’s Mum is Kyle’s teammate Kaylah. She tells Kyle’s Mum that she can take the inhaler. Ok this solves the problem. Calmer heads prevail.
Consider another situation where Jana and her Dad travel to their closest Tennis club to practice. However they live in a hotspot. Jana’s Dad knows the back roads that are not patrolled. When they get to the tennis club they are noticed by the club coach. Jana and her Dad are ejected and the police are waiting for them when they get home.
The cost for cleaning the tennis club is too expensive so it is shut down for a week. All who were at the club that day are advised to get tested. It ends up on facebook and Jana’s fb page is inundated with undeserved messages.
The Race Back to Normal
People want to play right now. They have had three months of no competition, no gym, no social connection. All the good things that sport and community bring us have been denied. All the health positives that fitness and regular activities provide are now dangerous.
People just want to get back to normal. Back to those things that made life better. Sport is one of those things. Yet to make sport happen, even solo sports like Golf, require administration. Committees, coaches, captains, club presidents are under an extra weight that their budgets and facilities were never made for.
Administrations have to make hard decisions, none harder than deciding wether to start playing or not at all. The cry of “at least let the kids play” resounds from parents and families. They point to the AFL, the NRL and Super Rugby. Why are they playing and my son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandchild is not?
The Price To Play?
There is a price to get all of this happening. Wether that is training up and employing extra officials. Paying for the extra cleaning and staff required. Or deciding that the season will not go ahead due to risk and lack of funds.
For the AFL the price is higher than anyone thought it would be. Next weekend there will be no football played in Victoria. If there is no stop to the infections by a certain date a greater shame could occur. An AFL Grand Final played outside Victoria.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.