I just spent an emotional couple of hours watching The Final Quarter, a documentary detailing the events leading up to and following the retirement of Sydney Swans legend Adam Goodes.
Goodes was a dual Brownlow winning premiership winning player who played 372 games in the AFL for the Sydney Swans.
He debuted for the Swans in 1999, and for the next 13 years or so was cheered and adored by fans all over Australia.
That was until the Indigenous round in 2013, when a 13 year-old-girl called Goodes an Ape.
Goodes called out the racist comment and the girl was escorted from the ground.
The next day, Goodes famously said that racism had a face and tonight it was a 13-year-old girl.
He continued by adding that we should not vilify the young girl, we should support her. It was not her fault, it was the way she was brought up.
Despite Goodes gracious statement, some media commentators, whose names don’t deserve to be mentioned, blamed Goodes for picking on a poor innocent schoolgirl who didn’t know what she was doing.
In the view of some people, Goodes was in the wrong and the girl who called him an ape was the real victim.
The following year, Goodes was named Australian of the Year.
As a lot of previous Australian of The Year recipients have done, Goodes used his high profile position to push issues close to their heart — in Goodes’ case Indigenous issues.
When questioned about Australia Day, specifically whether some indigenous Australians didn’t celebrate as it was a reminder of the invasion, Goodes agreed that some indigenous people couldn’t celebrate January 26th.
All of a sudden hordes of white males were outraged. You can’t change Australia Day, they said, seemingly oblivious to the fact that from 1915 to 1919, Australia Day was actually celebrated in July.
Iit wasn’t until 1935 that January 26th was accepted by all states as Australia Day.
I wonder what all these proud Australians would do with their Southern Cross tattoos if we also changed the flag?
So, how could all these disgruntled people voice their displeasure at Adam Goodes?
They booed him. But you can’t boo him because he is indigenous and voices an opinion that indigenous Australians have been historically treated badly — that would make you a racist.
Instead they booed him because he plays for penalties and is a poor sport. Funny thing is, nobody noticed this behaviour when he was winning Brownlows and premierships.
For over 300 games, he was fine, played well and was an All Australian player. They only noticed it AFTER he called out racism.
One former Hawthorn and Swans player even said Goodes’ war dance in the 2014 Indigenous Round had no place in sport. The war dance, he opined was traditionally performed by warring tribes before they went out and actually tried to kill each other and had no place in modern sport.
Obviously this expert has never seen an All Blacks game, when fans from all nations cheer as the Kiwis perform a Haka, which is a traditional war dance, some versions of which include a throat-slitting motion.
Rugby Union embraces the Haka for what it is — a celebration of a nation’s heritage.
Even the Rugby League recognises the Haka.
At last year’s Dally M Awards, when Samoan born Kiwi Roger Tuivasa-Scheck was awarded Fullback of the Year, his Kiwi team mate Isaac Luke performed an impromptu Haka, joined by other Kiwi’s in the room.
It was a moving tribute that nearly brought a tear to my eye, and was embraced by the vast majority of league supporters.
No one said the New Zealand Haka had no place in an awards ceremony for the Australian Rugby League.
No one said it was divisive, as it excluded the non-maoris in the crowd. No one said it had violent overtones. We all sat back and watched as some players showed respect for a team mate.
But in the AFL, during Indigenous Round, there was apparently no room for a tradition war dance. ARE YOU KIDDING ME.
A high profile radio star, who has previously coached the Wallabies, thought that racism wasn’t that big in sport.
When he coached the indigenous Ella brothers in the 1980s, he never saw racism.
But when questioned about that, Mark Ella responded that might have been the view from the coaches’ box, but not necessarily what happened on the field.
And that’s the thing. It is very easy for white Anglo-Saxon Christians to say they haven’t seen racism.
It’s easy to say if you are racially vilified, just ignore it. They haven’t spent most of their lives copping the same thing, day in, day out.
As Adam Goodes himself said, he was bullied at school but didn’t have the strength to stand up to it — but finally as a grown man, he did.
Have we learned anything from this sad saga?
I’ve got one thing to say to the thousands of fans who booed Adam Goodes in 2014 until he retired in 2015, but said they weren’t racist.
You are Racists. And until you look deep into your soul and realise these actions were indeed racist — then you’ve learned nothing.
And remember, there is no such thing as too much sport!
CHECKOUT: Thou shalt not get too many tatts, Izzy!