"Racism can lurk within the most ordinary of people."

It was meant to be a regular Saturday night. Spectators from two teams getting together to drink some beer, eat pies and watch a good old-fashioned game of footy. Children, grandparents, friends and siblings were present, resplendent in club wear, scarves and beanies. There was some typical ribbing from rival supporters, but that’s all expected in a showdown.

There was also some cause for celebration. It was Eddie Betts’ 250th game with the Adelaide Crows; a major milestone.

Everything was going swimmingly. Eddie scored a goal, and he triumphantly reacted.

Then someone threw a banana at him in disgust, and what started out as an innocuous victory dance turned ugly in an instant.

What is it that turns the most ordinary of people into momentary monsters?

The accused banana thrower was a young lady in her mid ’20s. She had long auburn hair, and didn’t look particularly threatening. She didn’t fit the mould of what we envisage “racists” to look like. No tattoos, no beards, no wife-beater singlet. She behaved so normally after the incident, that she even blew a kiss to a spectator who confronted her.

This image of “normal” was reiterated by the woman’s father. A chap named “Don” called into the Adelaide radio station FIVEaa to defend her.

“She’s very similar to her mother — unassuming, honest. This was so uncharacteristic.”

Don then goes on to argue with the radio announcers Dave and Will that she’s been “demonised” for her behaviour, without actually holding her to account. He didn’t deny that she threw the fruit, but he said that if it was anyone else, say Stephen Milne (a non-Aboriginal player), “no fuss would be made about it.”

Don misses the point entirely.

Because his child might be “beautiful” and “honest,” but in that very moment, she performed an ugly act, an abhorrent act that was caught on camera, and subsequently shared widely on social media.


“It was more an act of frustration than a racist act where she’s thrown a banana. You people in the media you like to lengthen and sensationalise anything … that’s wrong,” Don says.

Well, I agree with Dave and Will. It sounds like Don is a cop-out parent. Being frustrated doesn’t warrant an act of incivility towards another person. What keeps this fabric of society together is a common sense of decency, and a united humanity. It’s called self control.

Throwing a banana at a player is an ugly act, racist or not.

It baffles me as to why some people choose to act out on their “frustrations” in such an spiteful and public way. Like that woman on a train who hurled abuse at an Asian woman during peak hour. She later said she had a rotten day. “I’ve been chasing work for quite some time now. It’s awful what I said to that woman, I do agree.”

We (the public) tend to focus on the perpetrator when these social crimes occur. We want to know what the motivation is behind their actions, what could possibly be happening in their lives to act in such a way?

It is easy to go after those who cannot or will not defend themselves in such moments of confrontation. And it is easier to blame others and lash out irrationally for what might be your own insecurities and frustrations.

But it is our job as parents, friends, confidantes and indeed, the media, to call out this behaviour when we see it. We might not be able to stamp out the ugliness entirely, but recognising and acting upon it is the first step. The Port Adelaide Football Club reacted admirably in this regard.

The lady in question has agreed to participate in a “cultural awareness program,” and scores of people have come to Eddie Betts’ defence. He has laid low and hasn’t commented much on the incident, but he doesn’t need to.

Society has come together in overwhelming support of Eddie, and that is a beautiful thing to behold.

Featured image: Getty