The past week in AFL has been a rollercoaster ride for fans, players, members of the media and even club officials. Nearing the end of Friday nights opening match of the much-celebrated Indigenous Round, celebrating the huge contribution Indigenous players have made to our nations game, Sydney Swans star, Adam Goodes was racially vilified by a young, immature 13-year-old fan.
As the game was a blow out at that stage, I had started watching the latest episode of Parks and Recreation. Checking my twitter feed I saw some unusual tweets talking about the game and namely Goodes and a spectator. My first thought was “you cannot be serious, in this round?” mixed with “kick this idiot out of the stadium and ban them for life”. Flicking back onto the footy and reading reports on the net, the nation and myself were shocked to find the offender was so young.
My attitude then changed, this girl probably had no idea the ramifications of making such a comment, which therein lays the problem. The girl is a product of an environment created by years of casual/inadvertent racism.
Saturday morning Goodes gave one of the most professional and intelligent press conferences I have seen. He spoke of educating the fan and other young children, he took the blame off her and dug deep to share the pain he felt when he heard the comment.
Just as it seemed the issue was dying down, another video surfaced of a Collingwood fan screaming at the umpires to give various Indigenous Swans players free kicks due to the color of their skin…. Disgraceful, I was so disturbed by viewing the video I took a few minutes to reflect. What exactly run through these people’s minds? Did they think it was clever? Or even worse, true? How are these attitudes formed?
While a blanket statement that Australia is a racist country is totally inaccurate, (racism happens all over the world regardless of which country you are in), it still happens too often.
After Friday night’s incident, President of the Collingwood Football Club and media personality Eddie McGuire personally sought out Goodes to apologize and aim to rectify the situation. Even the most loyal haters of Mcguire could see the class shown in the tough and sticky situation that he faced. He attacked the issue head on and should be applauded for how he handled himself and represented his football club.
After the writing the above 68 words, it pains me to say he blew all the work he did Friday night and then some, out of the water with a few STUPID comments on his radio program with Luke Darcy. McGuire suggested Goodes could be used to promote he musical ‘King Kong’. Here is the transcript:
McGuire: “Get Adam Goodes down for it do you reckon?”
Darcy: “No I wouldn’t have thought so, absolutely not.”
McGuire: “You can see them doing that can’t you?”
Darcy: “What’s that?”
McGuire: “You know with the ape thing, the whole thing, I’m just saying the pumping him up and mucking around and all that sort of stuff.”
Just reading that makes me shake my head. He has since come out and issued an apology.
“I’m happy to stand here in front of everybody, in front of the country, and say we do not stand for racial vilification. I let myself down because I had a slip of the tongue.” He said in a press conference.
Now I do not for one second think that Eddie is a racist and that his slip of the tongue was a dumb mistake.Every human on this earth is entitled to make mistakes, its what helps you grow as a person and helps us grow as a society- As long as you learn from it.
But for a highly educated, media savvy, strong minded man like McGuire to have such a ginormous meltdown, in the one forum he has total control over his words, it unacceptable.
Pies player Harry O’Brien had this to say about his Presidents huge mistake. His comments come from the heart and the head. Something needs to be done.
This casual and accidental racism is prevalent in society and needs to be stamped out through education and enough people having the balls to stand up to someone when they make a flippant remark.
I cringe every time I hear the words “I’m not racist, but……”. For one, it is generally followed up by a ridiculously offensive statement.And two, if you aren’t racist, why must you tell everyone that? Couldn’t you let you actions and attitude do the talking? I often feel like doing this.
20 years ago, St Kilda star and Indigenous player, Nicky Winmar stood up to the crowd one Saturday after at Victoria Park, striking the now famous pose, pulling up his guernsey and pointing to the color of his skin. The image (Left) is now etched in Australian sporting folklore. In 20 years, we could possibly be saying the same out this iconic Goodes photo too….