If the players can’t hear you “sledge”, does that make it okay to do it?
“It was a flippant, off-the-cuff remark and the players would not have heard it for all the booing and banter coming from the crowd.” So said the bloke who was kicked out of WA’s Domain Stadium during the West Coast-Sydney game on the weekend. The one that everyone has been talking about ever since. The one that has driven Adam Goodes off the field.
So if “they” can’t hear you, should it be okay to holler ‘Get back to the zoo!’ during a game of footy?
How about “Get back to the zoo,” at the field of play where one Adam Goodes is running around doing his best to get on with the game, even though every time he goes near the ball he’s booed off it?
That’s the same Adam Goodes who famously called out a 13-year-old girl for a racial slur. And who copped a King Kong sledge from Eddie Maguire. But hang on, that was just ‘sledging’ too. ‘Banter’. Just a bit of fun, a bit ‘off the cuff’.
That’s the problem, right? It’s all a bit of fun, and yet, it’s not.
Ask around and you will hear that Goodes is being a bit of sook. He’s a complainer. Here’s a bloke running around chasing pigskin for a very comfortable living and when something doesn’t go his way he starts tripping over his bottom lip and having a bit of a cry. He should be tougher, right?
For those people, the biggest crime he’s committed is actually standing up for himself — for showing some emotion.
But here’s a young man who knows what he believes and is prepared to fight for it. It is cultural. In this ridiculous, brotherhood mentality, he should pretend everything’s okay because that’s what you do.
“Jaysus, Adam. If you could just pretend it didn’t hurt ya, mate. Everything’d be peachy, you know? But as long as you keep reacting, we’re going to keep giving it to ya. Only, we’re going to have a proper go at it now, because you’re being all bloody sooky! And worse, ya scarin’ the shit out of us with that spear chucking thing. Was that fair dinkum? Couldn’t you just run in circles with one finger in the air like the other boys?!”
What is that about?
There’s nothing new about booing in sport, we all know that. AFL football’s had some fantastic boo-ees: young men who’d get hold of the ball and entire stadiums would erupt. Some would thrive from it. Greg Williams, Wayne Carey, James Hird, Nick Reiwoldt and most Collingwood players. They feed off the boo.
Goodes was also infamously booed during the AFL’s Indigenous round (Post continues after video)…
But, for Adam Goodes, this is different. It’s been going on for over a year. Last September, Goodes said, “Sometimes it’s a mark of respect, that the opposition fans don’t want you to play well. It doesn’t bother me to be honest.”
Something’s obviously changed, and since today Goodes said that he is taking leave from the sport he loves, more needs to.
Goodes is clearly hurt, and with good reason. It’s not okay anymore, if it ever was.
Swans coach John Longmire says what is happening to Goodes is complicated and abhorrent. Personally, I’d like to add childish and stupid to the list. In fact, children wouldn’t act the way these adults have, and if they did, it’d be because their parents were leading the way.
I’m not sure how long it takes to build a culture, but this has got the whiff of jingoism we should be working hard to get rid of.
Rebecca Wilson and Dermott Brereton debate Adam Goodes… (Post continues after audio)
Is it racist? The Sydney Swans certainly think so. Tonight, Andrew Ireland, Sydney Swans CEO, released a statement which read:
“Should anyone choose to deride Adam through booing, then they are part of something that is inherently racist and totally unacceptable. The people involved in this behaviour can justify it any way they like. Our Club calls it racism.”
I suspect it’s become a bit like the old vaudeville villain, and every time he comes on stage someone holds up a sign saying “Booooo,” and the audience do their bit and play along. But there’s a difference between make believe and real life, even though this is being played out in the very real theatre of professional sport.
But, even if you don’t like Adam Goodes, for whatever reason, is it the way to treat him? There’s a mob mentality in all of this. A mean spirited, bullying kind of nastiness that’s beyond a good fun, off the cuff gee-up. It’s like the cyber trolls, only they’re not hiding online, but in the crowds of football games. How many of the booers would have the courage to front him and boo him face-to-face?
Adam Goodes would appear to be a decent human being.
He’s also a stunning role model of how hard work and exceptional talent can propel you to excellence.
We shouldn’t be booing Adam Goodes, we should be celebrating him.
Australian of the year, dual Brownlow Medallist, multiple best and fairest, premiership winning, leading goal kicking, 365 game playing legend of Australian Rules Football.
Oh, and Adam Goodes is a human being we’re very close to losing from the game, and as such, a role model for young players, particularly young Indigenous men who would have thought it’d be pretty good to play at the highest level and stand up for what you believe in.
How do you feel about the treatment of Adam Goodes?
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