Image courtesy of 7 News. Adam Goodes reacts to his young abuser.
Friday night should have been a night of elation and triumph for Adam Goodes. Playing for Collingwood in an AFL match at the MCG, Collingwood was moments away from winning by 47 points against the Magpies, the first win of its kind in 13 years.
Then he heard a female voice yell out the word "ape".
It wasn't the first time Goodes has been called a monkey or an ape while on the field. Still, Goodes turned around to face his abuser and was shattered to see that it was a 13-year-old girl. He left the field, leaving his teammates to celebrate the win.
Speaking to Channel Ten on Saturday, an emotional Goodes said the teen has since called him to apologise. He explained to her what that word means to people of indigenous background. He told her he didn't hate her and that she has to learn from her mistakes.
Still, when someone so young uses such an offensive word without a moment's hesitation, it forces us to look at ourselves as a society and how we are raising our kids. What sort of a world do we want to live in? How can we raise children who are aware that verbal abuse – even at highly emotional sporting events – isn't OK?
The girl in question was at the game with her sister and grandmother. The Sun Herald reports the teenager said, "I'm sorry for what I said – I didn't mean it in a racist way. And I'm sorry to the football club and the AFL."
The backlash against her was immediate and she became the target of abuse on social media. Abuse to highlight abuse? Once again some users of social media tackled an important subject with complete hypocrisy. Goodes and AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou had to step in and urge restraint.
Goodes has told the Sun Herald, "She's 13 years old, still so innocent, I don't put any blame on her. Unfortunately it's what she hears and the environment that she's grown up in has made her think that it's OK to call people names.
Julia's mother says she is "astounded" by her daughter's actions but defended her, saying her daughter didn't realise what she had actually said.
There are now calls for boosts to school programs to help educate our young about racial abuse.
This week is the indigenous round – a week of celebrating the people and the culture. Goodes says he was bullied in high school and called all these names. He never stood up for himself. "I am a lot more confident, am a lot more proud about who I am and my culture and I decided to stand up last night [Friday night] and I will continue to stand up because racism has no place in our industry, has no place in our society."
We couldn't have said it better ourselves.