LIKE many people The Standard's journalists are grateful the coronavirus-enforced sporting hiatus is slowly coming to an end.
Our sports reporters Justine McCullagh-Beasy, Nick Ansell and Sean Hardeman are eager to talk sport via The Commentary Box.
With the AFL back up and running, bar some glitches, there's plenty to discuss.
SEAN: Well, what a crazy week it has been in the football world. Saturday we had our first AFL COVID-19 positive test in Essendon's Conor McKenna before mere days later returning a negative test. We have hub situations and debate about the next stages of the AFL season. It got me thinking about the whole situation and how we would go about dealing with what players in the AFL, and around the world's other sports, are currently going through. How do you feel you guys would go adapting to this situation?
JUSTINE: It wouldn't be easy. They have extra restrictions placed on them than the average joe. The vitriol McKenna copped was intense, almost as if people thought he caught coronavirus intentionally. Overall though I think the players know they must adhere to tough regulations to ensure the game goes on. There's a lot riding on their decisions - it would be a financial nightmare if the AFL didn't complete a season.
NICK: I think that's what people don't realise, Jmac. It's easy to say "just pull the pin" but there are a lot of jobs and economic issues that arise from professional sport not taking the field. Footy might be a hobby for a lot of people but it's literally how others make a living. It's imperative the AFL plays out a season. How do you think the Bombers have managed the extra scrutiny internally?
JUSTINE: Spot on, Nick. There have already been too many casualties in terms of jobs - coaches axed or stood down until further notice. Those cuts have stemmed through to the media too. Essendon is no stranger to controversy in recent times. It's been an odd situation all round but it's a relief it's only impacted one game. I am sure Melbourne, which was to face the Bombers on Sunday, would've been agitated there was another delay to its stop-start season.
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NICK: They're certainly not immune to controversy, the old Bombers. Will be interesting to see how they respond. Surely Carlton is brimming with confidence after its defeat of Geelong. I think people just need to accept there are going to be a hell of a lot more random press conferences and things changing week-to-week and even day-to-day with COVID-19. You'd be jealous of the crowd situation in the west, Jmac? Your Dockers look as if they'll have full crowds before the year is out!
SEAN: I find it so weird that we could be seeing crowds again! I have gotten used to the no crowds and the crowd murmurs and hearing the sounds of the game in its rawest form, from a shout of "hot" or the call of a player's name to pass it. It's something you only really hear at grassroots level or without a significant crowd. How the WA situation plays out with teams going over there and quarantining, especially from Victoria, will be interesting.
JUSTINE: The quarantine part makes it difficult, although AFL players are practically in quarantine now. I think it's exciting crowds are being let back in. Even the few thousand the Showdown in Adelaide or at the GABBA and Metricon Stadium in Brisbane have welcomed were fantastic to hear. It's surprising how loud they've been! I'm rapt WA is letting full crowds back in. It should make for a great spectacle when the Derby is played. It sounds like it will be a Fremantle home game too which I am pleased about. I thought that would have to be the case after West Coast played Melbourne at Optus Stadium in round one.
SEAN: It's amazing how fast things are moving! A derby with 60,000 people seemed so far-fetched when the season resumed and now it could become a reality. I love seeing these rivalries in front of crowds as that's where most of the energy in the hatred is from and then the players feel they need to respond in heroic ways and it always means a good game. I admire the interstate clubs and their rivalries. The Showdown is always epic, the Derby has the city split for a week before and a week after. I'm enjoying seeing the rivalry building between the Bulldogs and Giants and hope it continues to bring exciting matches (hopefully with plenty of Bulldogs' wins).
JUSTINE: The Dogs-Giants clashes are becoming a must-watch modern rivalry. There is all the flair and certainly no love lost. What did you think of GWS captain Stephen Coniglio's decision to send Nick Haynes to do the coin toss against Marcus Bontempelli after the pair were involved in a heavy clash last season?
SEAN: It made no sense whatsoever! The Bont just smiled and did his thing and went back and then the biff started against him. The best players love that stuff as you are already off your game thinking about trying to impact them. Interesting to see how the Giants responded to it post game when the question was asked. Don't think it was a tactic that worked too well for them. But it was worth a try!
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