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Friday, July 31, 2015

The manifested face of racism

Sports and booing go together like a hand and a glove. As the old song goes, you can't have one without the other. Oh wait, that's love and marriage. Same sort of thing I guess. Booing is in our DNA. We love to hate the opposition and let them know about it.

So it has arisen that many people do not see the fuss about the booing of Adam Goodes, an elite player with the Sydney Swans. He is a two time Brownlow Medal winner for being the best and fairest player throughout the season, played in two premiership winning teams, four time all-Australian, an Indigenous All-Stars representative, plus is the 2014 Australian of the Year. He's been playing with the Sydney Swans since 1999. Goodes is a highly experienced, long-term, one-team player.

Sydney Morning Herald

Herald Sun
Pretty impressive for a country kid.

But it's all gone sour with the prolonged booing of Goodes whenever he plays. Ok, so he's not the first player to be booed and won't be the last. What makes this different is that it is a concerted attack on a player who has reached the pinnacle of achievement in the sport and the community.

Oh, did I mention that Goodes is indigenous. Adam claims the booing is racially motivated. Meanwhile those who boo claim that it isn't.

The Daily Telegraph for instance, ran a story with the headline, 'Adam Goodes isn't booed for the colour of his skin. He is booed for acting like a pillock' (1). Apparently, his allegedly pillock-like behaviour justifies the pillocks who boo him because (and this is directly quoted from the Daily Telegraph article):

1. It’s become a thing;

2. He deliberately taunts opposition fans;

3. He is accused of staging for free kicks, in contravention of the rules of fair play

4. No one has forgotten how he singled out a 13 year old girl in the Collingwood crowd and sicced security onto her after she called him an “ape”;

5. He was rewarded for outing this powerless little girl with the honour of Australian of the Year which he then turned into a grievance pulpit to bag Australia as a racist nation.

Ok, yes it's become a thing because one can't underestimate the power of mob behaviour when the mindless masses congregate. Always was and always will be.

His deliberate taunting of fans is based on him reacting to said fans who were carrying on like pillocks. Goodes performed a war-dance which included throwing a pretend spear. Apparently, the pretend spear scared some of the fans and so this supposedly makes Adam a pillock.

The claim that he stages free kicks may well be true but he obviously hasn't staged them in a manner that affected him being declared the best and fairest player in the entire competition twice. If this is one of the reasons he is getting booed, then why wasn't he booed for the 14 years before the sustained booing started? Obviously, staging wasn't a factor during that time and it is not the factor now. That is just an excuse for people who need to find an excuse to justify their own poor behaviour.

Number 4 in the Daily Telegraph's pillock list is really the crux of the booing. In 2013, a 13 year old Collingwood fan yelled at Goodes, calling him an ape. Considering that 'ape' has been used as a derogatory term for indigenous people for centuries, it is no wonder that Goodes complained about it. The comment was racist, even if she didn't understand or mean it as that. Goodes isn't a mind-reader so wouldn't have known her understanding of racism. However, calling him an ape was offensive, whether it was meant to be racist or not. She certainly didn't say it as a compliment.

Goodes was gutted by the comment and stated, 'racism has a face. It's a 13 year old girl' (2). The girl later called Goodes to apologise, which she followed up with a letter of apology, and he asked for people to not attack her. Goodes didn't pursue the matter further.

Instead of hearing Adam's pain, Collingwood President, Eddy McGuire likened Goodes to a gorilla by stating that he could be used to open the musical, King Kong (3). Ok, so McGuire did apologise later but this doesn't make it all better. It is racism and it is being allowed to fester by these sort of comments from people who should be examples of good behaviour.

The booing started after this incident. It was directly related to Goodes calling out the racist taunt by the teenage girl. On ABC's The Weekly, sports commentator Tony Jones specifically stated it as the reason: 'There’s still a great level of resentment for what he did here at the MCG a couple of years ago, when he called out that 13-year-old girl' (4).

There are now a number of people, including the girl's mother and columnist Andrew Bolt, calling for Adam to apologise to the teenager. So Goodes should have just shut up and let the girl (and whoever her influences are) to continue on with unacceptable behaviour? Some seem to have lost sight of what is acceptable. Racism is wrong. Standing up to it, isn't.

Goodes shouldn't apologise. If anything the girl's mother should apologise. The girl was copying what she's seen others doing. At least the girl had the courage to apologise to Adam.

As for the Daily Telegraph's fifth point: it's complete rubbish. Goodes wasn't awarded Australian of the Year for outing the 'powerless little girl'. He was awarded Australian of the Year for his work with indigenous communities and troubled youth (5). But hey, why let the truth get in the way of defending racist behaviour. Goodes spent the year campaigning against domestic violence and racism (6). Something which obviously needs a lot more work from a lot more people given the current inability of people to admit to or understand racism against someone committed to ending it. Goodes was a worthy recipient of the award. But it would appear that you can't have your Award and speak out too if you want to keep the masses on side.

Instead, high profile people like former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett and cricketer Shane Warne are defending the booing. Former Lions star player, Jason Akermanis claims Goodes is a sook and is playing the victim (7). Well, guess what? He is the bloody victim. He is the one being abused and taunted and then told to suck it up. Just like indigenous people have been expected to since the British invaded this land and stole it from the indigenous population.

There was even a call to deport Goodes because he dared to refer to Australia Day as Invasion Day and Survival Day. Not only is Goodes an Australian citizen but he is indigenous to this country (8).

Those defending the booing are trying to turn the fans into victims while victimising the real victim, Adam Goodes.

In addition to being racist, it's bullying. To claim that Goodes brings this on himself because he's reacted to racist comments and sustained booing of fans is to make a mockery of what bullying is. Are people implying that it is Goodes who is bullying thousands of chanting patrons by reacting to them? Thousands of people ganging up on one person is bullying.

Kids are taught to not tolerate bullying. Yes, one option is to walk away. But when it's prolonged it has to eventually be called out for what it is. It's easy for someone who has not faced a life-time of racism to say 'just get over it'. The sad fact is that many indigenous people choose not to react to racist taunts. This doesn't mean they have gotten over it. Many carry unspeakable hurt because of the degradation they suffer. It doesn't mean that they accept it. And it doesn't make it right. There is nothing wrong with speaking up against racism.

The booers claim they aren't racist because there's numerous other indigenous players who they don't taunt. Yet how many of those players have taken fans to task for racial abuse. Goodes was hailed a hero until he stood up and challenged the racism in sport.

Thankfully, there has been a significant show of solidarity with Goodes to counter the racist denials. Opposition football teams, Richmond and Western Bulldogs will don the dreamtime indigenous jersey's for their matches this weekend. Many others are speaking out in support of Adam. Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Labor leader Bill Shorten, current Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews and media mogul James Packer are condemning the booing. Today 150 organisations announced their support for Adam (9).

While booing is a part of sport, it is not sporting to attack someone for defending themselves and calling out racist behaviour.

Adam's pain is real and is something that a lot of white people don't understand and haven't experienced. Stan Grant explained it eloquently when he wrote: 'But this is how Australia makes us feel. Estranged in the land of our ancestors, marooned by the tides of history on the fringes of one of the richest and demonstrably most peaceful, secure and cohesive nations on earth' (10).

Instead of defending or denying racist behaviour, instead of attacking Goodes, there should be more energy put towards condemning this behaviour, of stating that it isn't acceptable to vilify a man for standing up for himself and his race.

This isn't a matter of political correctness gone mad. It's a matter of respect.

Instead of using a teenage girl's ill-thought outburst as an excuse to be racist, people should listen to Adam's Australian of the Year acceptance speech in which he stated, 'I believe racism is a community issue which we all need to address and that's why racism stops with me'.(11)

The booing and sledging aimed at Goodes by fans young and old is the manifested face of racism. Kids copy what they see. For that matter, adults copy what they see. It is mob behaviour as the Daily Telegraph pointed out. Following the crowd is no defence. People should question what is happening and not accept the lame excuses used to justify unacceptable and racist behaviour.

And denying it doesn't change it.

So, is the booing racist?

Of course it is.

To boo Goodes over his reaction to a racist comment is to defend racism, therefore the booing is racist. Q.E.D.


1. Daily Telegraph, Miranda Devine, 17 June 2015, 'Adam Goodes isn't booed for the colour of his skin. He is booed for acting like a pillock'. Accessed 30 July 2015.

2. Herald Sun, Matt Windley, 25 May 2015, 'Adam Goodes 'gutted' after 13-year-old girl's racial slur, who called the Sydney champion today to apologise', Accessed 31 July 2015.

3. The Age, Stathi Paxinos, 20 May 2013, 'McGuire apologises for Goodes King Kong gaffe', Accessed 31 July 2015.

4. Mamamia, Mamamia Team, 30 July 2015, 'In 3 minutes, Charlie Pickering perfectly explains why booing Adam Goodes IS racist', Accessed 30 July 2015.

5. Australian of the Year, 'Australian of the Year 2014 - Adam Goodes', Accessed 30 July 2015.

6. ABC News, 25 January 2015, 'Australian of the Year: Adam Goodes lauds progress against racism, but says more work to be done', Accessed 30 July 2015.

7. ABC News, 30 July 2015, 'Adam Goodes playing the victim over booing, says former AFL star Jason Akermanis, Accessed 30 July 2015.

8. SBS, 29 July 2015, 'McMaster benched over Adam Goodes 'deport him' remark', Accessed 30 July 2015.

9. Sydney Morning Herald, Kate Aubusson, 31 July 2015, 'One hundred and fifty Australian organisations condemn racist attacks on Adam Goodes', Accessed 31 July 2015.

10. The Guardian, Stan Grant, 30 July 2015, 'I can tell you how Adam Goodes feels. Every indigenous person has felt it', Accessed 30 July 2015.

11.'Adam Goodes - Australian of the Year 2014 Acceptance Speech, Accessed 31 July 2015.

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