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Forget scheduling changes and crowd lockouts — we’re lucky to have any sport at all

A Parramatta NRL player drop kicks the ball for the winning field goal against Canberra.

There are now daily reminders we are fortunate there is footy of any variety being played anywhere in Australia.

A suspected positive test here, a surge of reported cases there and the fixtures that were once as reliable and reassuring as a Nanna’s hug are thrown into chaos.

The AFL is the victim of both its (almost) truly national nature and also that 10 of its 18 teams still reside inside Victoria which is rapidly having its identity transformed from “Garden State” to “COVID State”.

In the past 15 years, approximately half of all NRL games finished with a margin of 10 points or less. Since the implementation of the “six again” rule, only 17 of 48 games have finished inside this “potential cliff-hanger” range.

Last weekend, the average margin was 17.8 points, with only two games decided by single figures.

This was inflated by the Storm’s 50-6 victory over the rudderless Warriors, who became the first team to make a Big Brother-style eviction about coronavirus:

Potential solutions abound, but why lament blow-outs and debate quality?

Some suggest the answer is to scramble the egg even more by reducing the number of players on the field; others continue to insist reducing interchange rotations and bench numbers will increase fatigue and open the game up (perhaps like V’landysball).

A consoling factor is that the Greater Western Sydney Giants’ two-point victory over fellow premiership contender Collingwood on Friday night was an intense, high-class contest that proved — much like the NRL’s Eels-Raiders clash — that you are quite obviously more likely to have a good game when you have two talented teams on the park.

A Parramatta NRL player drop kicks the ball for the winning field goal against Canberra.
A field goal in golden point from Parramatta’s Clint Gutherson ended a thrilling contest between the Eels and Raiders.(AAP: Brendon Thorne)

Of course, in the AFL particularly, it is difficult to know which teams will be on the park on any given weekend.

Let alone whether it will be two titans or two also-rans.

So, perhaps rather than lament blow-outs in the NRL or run yet more debates about the quality of the contemporary AFL, we should remain grateful there are games at all.