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If Adam Goodes can't say a proper goodbye, the racists have won.

Adam Goodes is going on holiday.

Presumably, right up until the siren sounded at the end of Saturday night’s game, his date of departure was flexible. If the result of the Sydney Swans finals game against North Melbourne had gone differently, it’s highly unlikely that a sun-lounger with his name on it would have an urgent pull on one of Australia’s finest footballers.

But the Swans lost. Their season is over. And with it, 35-year-old Adam Goodes’ career on the football field.

After 18 years and 372 games, Goodes is retiring.

Typically, in these instances, veteran footballers can expect an almighty send-off. A lap of their ground, flanked by mentors and loved ones, perhaps in an open-topped car in a flurry of ticker-tape, perhaps borne aloft on their team-mates’ shoulders. A drive-around the MCG on Grand Final day is the gold standard for bidding farewell to a legend.

Not for Goodes. The man, an Australian of the Year who has won two Brownlow medals, two premierships and a four-time All Australian is going on holiday.

Packing up and getting the hell out of Australia with as little fanfare as possible.

And who could blame him?

There isn’t a person in the land who doesn’t know that Adam Goodes has had a tough year.

His struggles at the hands and mouths of rival fans as they flung their hatred at him in a torrent of boos and bellows sparked a national debate about whether his public hounding was a race issue.

It was a race issue.

And Goodes enraged every armchair bigot in the land by daring to call it out.

It got him nowhere. Back on the ground, back being booed, destined to be asked about the incident, and little else, for years and years to come.

Apparently, the price for popping the cork on the genie’s bottle of race and football is your legacy.

The epic cover of The Age that covered the booing controversy in black and white.

Because Goodes has reportedly decided to forfeit his right to a lap of honour. Aware that participating in the Grand Final could spark a fresh round of booing that will mark and mar the event, he is bowing out, going on holiday. Leaving quietly.

“I really think people would still boo him,” Former AFL footballer and commentator Tim Watson told SEN radio today about what would happen if Goodes did a lap at the MCG.

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“Because after all this, after he stood down for a week because of the mental anguish associated with the booing, he came back and there was still booing.”

Collingwood tragic and media mogul Eddie Maguire disagrees: “I think all fans would love to send him off,” he told Triple M. “I know there’s been all this booing at times… but I wouldn’t think anyone would boo Adam Goodes on a farewell lap at the MCG. Surely not.

“I’d love him to get a big round of applause.”

That’s optimistic. But he’s right on one thing.

Adam Goodes, Australian of The Year.

A man like Adam Goodes should not be leaving quietly. After all he has done for football, for the Sydney Swans, for the countless number of young men he has inspired to change their lives, he should be celebrated loudly. En masse.

The 32,000 fans who turn up to cheer the Sydney Swans, week in and week out, deserve a chance to say goodbye to their number 37. Adam Goodes deserves a chance to thank them for their support, and his teammates deserve another chance to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with one of the strongest and most inspiring leaders they are ever likely to play alongside.

Goodes with Michael O Loughlin and Cathy Freeman

In all likelihood, Goodes will go and say farewell to his Swans faithful next season, back at the SCG. But in the decision to turn away from the glory of the Grand Final, something small has been lost.

We tell our children that bullies won’t win. That good shouts louder than bad. That if you work hard, and are a decent person, you will be rewarded.

If Adam Goodes has to skulk away from everything he has built, those messages are a lie. The racists and bullies have won.

Adam Goodes has built something great. It drives his detractors to distraction that he is a proud Aboriginal Australian who is not apologising for his heritage. A man who holds a mirror up to their prejudices.

They are trying to destroy him. And if they chase him from the accolades that are rightfully his, they will believe they have won.

Thank you for everything, Adam Goodes. You deserve a holiday more than most.

But please, come back and say goodbye.

Do you think Goodes should do a lap of the MCG on Grand Final day?

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