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AFL football is full of hyperbole. So when you hear superlatives like "greatest", "biggest", "best" thrown around ad nauseam, you tend to roll your eyes.
But as a selection of AFL heavewights like Gillon McLachlan, Eddie McGuire and Jeff Kennett all declared the league was facing its most serious crisis, barely anyone has batted an eyelid.
Such is the scale of the threat coronavirus poses not only to the game's immediate but long-term future, it's still almost impossible to get your head around the extent of the damage.
Just 48 hours or so have seen the cessation of play for the first time in 125 years, players pondering 50 percent pay cuts, and the immediate standing down of around 80 percent of an entire workforce.
A sporting body that has mutated into a corporate giant needs super-charged revenue streams. In an instant, most have dried up completely. The toll would be extreme enough regardless of whether matches can be resumed come June. And that possibility seems more unlikely by the day.
For the first time in more than 20 years, clubs' futures are in serious doubt, careful planning rendered next to irrelevant. The AFL which emerges from these dark days may be a considerably leaner, narrower organisation running a more conservative competition.
Football's governing body has dealt with other major crises. War, scandal, greed, corruption. This one, however, has no tangible villain, is more insidious and less predictable, and its destructive path is closer the beginning than a conclusion.
Here is a catalogue of the other biggest challenges the game has faced. All were serious but eventually overcome, an outcome McLachlan and Co. would love to be certain will be the case now. But they can't. This is by any measure of a crisis, the "daddy" of them all. Good luck, guys.
This article first appeared on www.espn.com.au
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