The decision to cancel the NAB AFLW season, while simultaneously announcing the postponement of the AFL season, was met with dubious disappointment at best and harsh criticism at worst.

People are wondering why the AFLW season couldn’t have been postponed like the men’s league, so as to give some sense of finality to the players that have poured heart and soul into the 2020 season.

To have an open-ended season is, of course, devastating, but we have to remember that a major reason as to why the AFLW finals series was cancelled comes down to one of the most contentious aspects of the women’s league: that the players are as yet unable to commit themselves to the sport as full-time professional athletes.

This is through no fault of their own, but while the AFL deems that the women’s league is lacking the support needed to progress the players into that elite category, the players are required to juggle other work commitments alongside their sporting careers.

Postponing the season is therefore simply not feasible, as the chances that the players and clubs will be in the same state of mind, fitness and chemistry that they are in currently, in however many months it takes for the game to get back up and running, is very slim indeed.

This would likely not result in a premiership team that is an accurate representation of the season we have had.

So, as upsetting as it is for everyone that we’ve missed out on seeing more of what has been an awe-inspiring season of footy, we need to recognise and accept that major systemic issues were at the epicentre of this decision.

We can only work to continue to promote the game and hope that its growth trajectory will soon see the sport elevated to the point where the incredible athletes that take part are rightly recognised as the elite professionals that they are.