Vale Phil Walsh.
The football world is in mourning today after the passing of the Adelaide Crows coach.
Tragedy is a word widely misused in sporting circles, but it is appropriate to use it here. While the circumstances of his death will become clearer in time, what we already know is the South Australia police have charged Walsh’s son with his murder.
This situation is unprecedented and just how the AFL handles it remains to be seen.
Comparisons may be drawn with the death of cricketer Phil Hughes, but even that situation is vastly different to this.
Football and sport in general is often used by fans as an escape from the realities of life. We are able to forget our worries by immersing ourselves in the codes, clubs and players we love so much. In this context, it is easy to separate the game from life and convince ourselves that one is not affected by the other.
But a tragedy like this reminds us of the folly of that conceit.
We awoke this morning to this shocking news and that shock has yet to dissipate. Spare a thought, then, for those at the AFL who must negotiate the competition through all of this.
Above all else, the welfare of the Walsh family and the Adelaide Football Club must be taken into account. It is impossible to conceive of the players being in a fit state to play against Geelong on Sunday, whether they express the desire to do so or not.
What we know about Phil Walsh and his commitment to the game he loved suggests he may have wanted them to, but surely the game cannot go ahead. The entire round itself may have to be abandoned.
That is complicated, of course, by the fact that Sydney and Port Adelaide have already played. By the fact that there is no room in the AFL calendar to play a “make-up” round. By the commercial interests surrounding the competition.
The fact is, none of that matters right now.
All that matters is the welfare of the Walsh family, his friends and those involved with the Adelaide Football Club.
R.I.P. Phil Walsh.
You will be missed.
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