The AFL: A microcosm of an indulgent and unfair Australian system

In Australia, like most western countries, we live in a democracy where all members of society supposedly have the same rights and opportunities. In reality, we live in a society where CEOs and Board members of large companies are paid obscene salaries and bonuses, often to increase productivity by reducing staff numbers, and there are also people of extreme privilege, in an environment of stagnant wage growth, decreasing full-time employment, and increasing unemployment, homelessness and despair.

The AFL has recently become a microcosm of this wide divide. The football clubs are the powerhouse of the AFL, generating wealth that runs the system through their action on the field which is watched by fans and shown on TV, and spawning the various TV programs that rely on these games. In a COVID19 season, they have had to reduce salaries of players and reduce support staff yet endure unprecedented travel and strict quarantine lockdowns in hubs outside Victoria. In many cases, the AFL teams, who arguably play the most strenuous game on the planet,  have 4-5 day turnarounds often on tired grounds whose size and shape ensure that the contests become close contact, physical encounters of gladiatorial proportions. Injuries abound, as indicated by concurrent injuries to the entire 2018 premiership midfielders of the West Coast Eagles for the match on 10 September. The greater potential for serious to career-ending injuries is a real risk for exhausted players.

Meanwhile, a suave Gillon McLachlan and his well-paid executives, with partners, children, and “essential support staff” escape lockdown in Victoria and swan into Queensland under special exemptions which see them in group quarantine drinking cocktails around the pool in a luxury Gold Coast resort. The essential mission of this massive group is to organise a Grand Final which is 7 weeks away, while most workers in Australia have learned to work remotely and many students have had to learn remotely at home. In addition, many Australians with far more urgent reasons to get exemptions from entering Queensland are denied entry.

We clearly live in a world of double standards where executives who only exist because of the efforts of others expect privileges they do not extend to others. We think we live in a democracy, but we really live in an Australia with an archaic and inefficient political system where privileged and minority groups call the tune and the majority are kept silent by political correctness. The AFL is simply a microcosm of such an unfair system.

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