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We have all heard of the broadcast money that will be lost if sports rules are not followed in 2020, but there is a longer-term problem that concerns the governing bodies behind closed doors: ensuring that people do not realize that they are without sports be able to live .
Australia’s largest winter codes, the AFL and the NRL, would probably never publicly explain this as it would open people’s eyes, but the corona virus break threatens to exhaust their audience.
The mainstream sports cycle is rooted in the Australians. After all, we are a sports country.
Simply put, cricket dominates summer, while football and basketball tick like a neglected middle child who gets regular attention. Tennis is in the spotlight in January, AFL, AFLW, netball, league and union (mainly NRL) take absolute responsibility for six to eight months in autumn and winter, then horse races gallop until October and early November and we do it all over again and again.
But 2020 completely rejected it. Like an addiction we never knew we had, we were forced to get a cold turkey. As entertaining as yesterday’s repetitions may be, it’s not quite the same thing.
Australian sport has dominated our weekends in recent decades. Just watch the AFL and NRL schedule, with tiered games on Saturday and Sunday and the codes that sneak into the nights of Thursday and Monday. It is very different from the old start on Saturday at 3 p.m.
Without sport, the weekend suddenly looks very different. There are fewer commitments. The life of COVID-19 has offered other hobbies to pursue, such as cooking, more family time, DIY, puzzles, Netflix, podcasts, hiking, nature and the list goes on and on.
This won’t be the case for everyone, but for a small percentage of the audience in any sport, it will be liberating if he gets a cold turkey while playing games or watching TV on TV. These newly discovered hobbies can last long-term in people’s lives across sports.
It’s also pretty emancipating if your emotional state isn’t dictated by your team’s result on Sunday night!
You could say who cares a small percentage, but considering that 89.11 million people watched AFL games on TV in 2019, a loss of three percent, for example, equates to about 2.67 million fans. This is not pocket money for a sport that is constantly trying to expand its audience.
For what it’s worth, I can’t wait to see my team again, but I’ve also found that I enjoyed not having any stress on a Sunday afternoon because of the player on my AFL Fantasy team who still delivers too little. I enjoyed not surfing between games that were neutral to me on a Saturday afternoon, or opening my iPhone every 15 minutes while traveling with the family to get an updated score from this game in which I played chose a roughie at work.
These little habits that I developed in connection with the sport at the weekend were suddenly exposed and I found that I actually don’t need them. I don’t claim to speak for everyone, but I think I’m not alone.
They say that after a breakup, there are typically several phases of grief that we go through, including denial, relapse, and acceptance.
It’s been almost two months since AFL and NRL canceled their 2020 season. Both competitions have now set dates for resumption. But in the meantime I wonder how many supporters have gone through these separation phases and have started to find acceptance in life without sport.
You can disprove and believe that absence will make your heart beat faster, and it’s true that the majority of fans will want the sport to return, but I would argue that it won’t be everyone.
Privately, with a long-term perspective, all sport codes will assess the damage done after this coronavirus episode and how many people have realized that they can actually live without sport.
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