It’s Sunday about noon and while the football community would normally be gearing up for the latest round of AFI games today is different. No clatter of gear and cleats in cramped dressing rooms, no pre-game rituals, no pre-game nerves. Yesterday the American Football Ireland board took the decision to cancel the AFI 2020 Season.
I know that this was not an easy decision to make. I totally agree and support this decision. But as I was trying to digest the news a part of my brain kept coming back to… “could we not just…….”. I logic’d through the ramifications and arrived back at the correct decision – cancel the season. So I know a lot of thought and consideration was put into making the right call and I would like to thank each of them for their leadership and clarity in this time of uncertainty and fear.
I watch as other sports worldwide are trying to salvage something from 2020 and I question the sense being applied. When this pandemic has passed there will be a new landscape in which sport will have to fit. But these are future concerns. Right now there can be only one focus, safety. I am proud of our sport always. When I am asked to explain what makes American Football so special, the conversation always comes around to decision making under pressure. All 22 players on the field are thinking through situations that evolve violently in seconds. Coaches likewise are challenged and challenge each other to make the right call dozens of times a game. That for me sets us apart from the rest of the field. Our board have demonstrated this winning trait. Thank you.
From my den I can see the Cork University Hospital. A few months ago we were talking about the illness in a Chinese province. I will never forget the day the news broke that the illness had arrived in the CUH. The news has been filled with other locations that previously were known to me through football. Bergamo in Italy which I associated with quality football and the Lions now has a different resonance for us all.
My perspective on people has changed too. I may have known you as a player, coach, official or committee member. I am now seeing more. The job you do, some on the front line. The family you have that you are fighting to keep safe. The time you give others as you reach out to those who may be suffering through the isolation and fear. I thought I had seen the best of you on the field, I was so wrong. You are amazing, all of you. At this point I would like to wish my Belgian counterpart, colleague and friend, Coach Spencer Woods well as he continues his recovery from Covid 19. Through his illness he continued to reach out and inspire.
To the Wolfhounds family the message is simple. Stay safe.