As the 2020 AFLW season has to deal with the onset of COVID, teams are struggling to field players, and one is dealing with the tragic suicide of one of the players in the latest episode of “Fearless: The Inside Story of the AFLW.” Three of the four teams being followed for this docuseries were struggling in the wake of COVID. And some of the players are being rocked by the changes to their routine and the effect it’s having on their mental states.
Let’s get the big one out of the way first. None of us knew how to react to COVID in the early stages of 2020, no matter what country we lived in or what continent we lived on. This is also true for women who are trying to make a fledgling league viable in a sport they love that they have been told for years they couldn’t play after a certain age. They are doing everything they can to make sure this league survives and COVID with its health issues, the restrictions handed down by the Australian government and the precautions teams had to take dealing with a virus they knew nothing about certainly increased their trials and their struggles. A few of the players struggled with the fatigue from the virus and exposure to it. Others definitely felt the weird aura the shutdowns brought around the world. It’s very hard for a team to consider forfeiting a game, much less a season, but that was on the table as numbers kept going up. I’m interested to see where it goes after the initial weeks of lockdown and restrictions.
The other heavy topic from this episode is the suicide of Jacinda Barclay. The 29-year-old took her own life in 2020. She had been diagnosed with psychosis and struggled with her life. She was a talented athlete but there was so much more going on that too many didn’t see. Her family submitted her brain to be studies for possible CTE, a disease we’ve learned affects the brains of athletes who sustain repeated head injuries. A few American football players have committed suicide due to the effects of CTE and it’s certainly within the realm of possibility that she did too. Her former teammates talked about how much they miss her, and her former coach talked about how he cried more at her funeral than he did at his own mother’s funeral. It’s a tragic ending, but hopefully telling her story will help other athletes and their families see the warning signs and prevent more tragedies like this.
Despite the heavy topics of this episode, the series is still quite amazing. I love seeing how these athletes do everything they can to make sure their sport and their league survives. All they wanted was a chance. They’ve got one and they aren’t going to throw away their shot.
Ranking: 4 stars
What did you think of episode two of “Fearless: The Inside Story of the AFLW?”