By Harbour Heather
The most overused word of the last few months just might be ‘unprecedented’. That’s not without reason, as many industries have had to hastily rearrange themselves in order to survive in a COVID-19 world. Diversification, streamlining efficiencies… all those buzzwords.
Sport is no different. At the professional level, sport is a business, so leagues worldwide have been bending over backwards to find ways to run their competition to limit their revenue loss. The NRL have done their best, and have the Warriors to thank for agreeing to jump across the Tasman and be apart from their families for months to complete the season. But something about it always seemed a little tenuous.
Players may or may not have been promised their families could join them after a few weeks, but that hasn’t happened, for one reason or another. Sports teams may be exempt in the Australian government’s eyes in order to complete a season, but that hasn’t extended to their families.
Some players want to come home. Some players’ loved ones want them home. So four of them are returning.
These are real humans, not sports robots. They have families, and real life outside of playing footy. Sure, they are well paid, and sure, there are harder jobs with greater sacrifices. But this is an unprecedented situation in an unprecedented season. It isn’t what they signed up for at the beginning of the year and on the scale of important things in life, living in a hotel in order to play rugby league while separated from the ones you love for the next few months probably isn’t high on the agenda for some.
Throw in a few heavy losses and the coach getting cut, and it would all start to weigh up. That support system would mean more now more than ever.
But dive into a comments section and it just doesn’t resonate with some people how difficult the situation is. Everything is heightened at the moment, and with COVID cases picking up again in Australia, any anxiety players have might’ve kicked up a gear too.
It’s not just the Warriors facing this. Unfortunately, idiocy is also a global pandemic. An NHL player with an immune-compromised daughter opted out of returning to play next month, and some fans called for him to be traded – clearly he’s not committed enough, “not the type of guy we want on our team”.
The only fair deduction from those comments is that these people have no empathy, or hate their own families. Or both.
It’s all easier from the couch though, isn’t it? On field and off.
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