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Adam Goodes is an Australian legend. He’s an incredible AFL player and Sydney Swans gentry. He was Australian Of The Year in 2014, created the GO Foundation in 2009, which gives scholarships to indigenous students, and he’s also been at the forefront of raising awareness about domestic violence in Australia.
Aside from these impressive achievements, Adam’s a good, respectable person, as in, you won’t find him pissing into his mouth on a night out (like Todd Carney) or doing a poo in the corridor of a hotel after a night out (hello, Nate Myles).
Yet despite these achievements and Goodes’s character, he’s been booed and harassed at basically every single AFL match for the last couple of months. Yes, almost every time Adam gets the football, an eruption of hatred begins.
It came to a head this weekend when the Sydney Swans played the West Coast Eagles in Perth.
Again, the booing ensued with every move Goodes made. Fellow indigenous teammate Lewis Jetta scored a goal and directed an indigenous war cry dance at the West Coast fans, throwing a make-believe spear at the crowd.
Afterwards, Jetta revealed he’d done it in retaliation to the booing of Goodes.
"Look, he [Jetta] wanted to celebrate the goal and he wanted to stick up for a mate,” Coach John Longmire explained.
"I spoke to him after the game and he was upset with the booing, and he's had enough of it. Lewis is a young kid who has come to Sydney and Goodesy has been such a powerful figure for him… and he was reacting and trying to show some support for a mate of his... He doesn't think that Adam deserves it."
And I wholeheartedly agree with him. (Post continues after gallery.)
It’s a question we all have to ask ourselves: Why is Adam Goodes the object of such sustained disdain?
Is it because he’s been embroiled in some alcohol-fuelled biff? No.
Is it because he’s had allegations of sexual assault made against him like other footballers in the past? Most definitely not.
Is it because he’s a dirty, dangerous player? Never.
Is it his willingness to talk about indigenous issues and shut down racism so openly and unapologetically that it gets many people’s backs up?
Yes, I’m so sad to say this might just be it.
Goodes has fended off racism at every step of his career. In 2013 most memorably, he called out a young Collingwood supporter for yelling racist slurs at him during a game.
“To come to the boundary line and hear a 13-year-old girl call me an 'ape', and it's not the first time on a footy field that I've been referred to as a 'monkey' or an 'ape', it was shattering,” he said at the time.
Goodes handled the situation with dignity and maturity, he didn’t condemn the girl, and later spoke to her on the phone about what she’d said.
Yet, a few days later, Collingwood’s president Eddie McGuire joked on radio that he thought Goodes would make a good promoter for the stage production of King Kong. So wrong.
It’s this brand of racism that Goodes has resolutely stood tall against. Earlier this year during the indigenous round at the SCG, he acted out an indigenous war cry dance (similar to Jetta’s last weekend), throwing an invisible spear. (Post continues after video.)
It’s been called “the biggest symbolic act of its sort in the AFL... and is up with Cathy Freeman running with both the Australian and Aboriginal flags at the 1994 Commonwealth Games,” according to journalist Martin Flanagan, but again, Eddie McGuire wasn’t happy about it.
“Personally, I don’t like to see demonstrative demonstrations after a goal or anything else. We had to have police and security guards and then someone was kicked out of the game as a result,” he said.
“Had we known before the game Adam or one of the indigenous players were planning to do some sort of war cry we would've been able to educate... it’s almost like what the government has to do as far as the equal rights marriage situation is concerned, there are people out there who are frightened, there are people who don't understand it.”
Really, Eddie? Really?
I didn't find it frightening. And I didn't find it worthy of heightened "security".
Neither did Goodes, obviously.
"I was just a little bit inspired by the under-16 Boomerang kids who taught us a little bit of a war cry, so it's just a little tribute to those guys," he explained later.
As you can see from the video (above), it’s not offensive and it doesn’t require “police” or widespread "education" so that, as a whole, Australian’s can learn to not be offended by Adam Goodes.
The Project’s Waleed Aly summed up the public’s treatment of Goodes perfectly:
“There’s no mystery about this at all. It’s not as simple as it being about race, it’s about something else. It’s about the fact that Australia is generally a very tolerant society until its minorities demonstrate that they don’t know their place. And at that moment, the minute someone in a minority acts as though they’re not a mere supplicant, then we lose our minds.”
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan also saw nothing disrespectful in Goodes or Jetta's actions, saying: "There has obviously been a campaign for some months now against one player and the booing has been going on for some time against Adam Goodes. I think we are at the stage that people don't know why they are doing it. It's obviously hurting Adam and it's hurting a lot of people in our industry."
Yes, Adam Goodes has a huge and powerful fan base (including me), but you only need to watch an AFL game where he's present to see just how prevalent the negative attitude towards him - and the crowd mentality that goes along with it - is.
Australia, we’re better than this.