Booing Adam Goodes has to stop

From Michelle Grattan:

    Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane has said that if the vilification of Adam Goodes does not stop, players may have to take matters “into their own hands” and walk off the field in protest.

He also said that the booing of Goodes was racist, had gone too far and was damaging not just the game but also our society. Soutphommasane went on to say:

    “We can only hope that the AFL, its clubs and captains can help put this to an end.

    “If things do not improve – and assuming Goodes plays on – it may have to come to the players taking matters into their own hands.

    “In Europe, there have been occasions in football when teams have walked off the pitch in protest against racist abuse. What an indictment on our society it would be, were things to come to reach such a point.”

The AFL has issued a statement, which condemns racism, but carefully avoids saying the booing was racist, only that it was felt as racist by Goodes.

I think this is a casuistic argument. No doubt some are motivated by racism, some are mindlessly piling in, some are trying to upset a player from the opposing team, some may be explained in other ways. I think it was the head of Richmond who said it was bullying at best, racism at worst, and in any case unacceptable.

NRL stars Jonathan Thurston and Greg Inglis are reported to be planning to do an Aboriginal dance in support of Goodes. This could end badly. I think footballers should stick to playing football on the park.

If the booing were isolated, officials should eject those indulging in the behaviour. However the booing was so widespread at the recent Swans-West Coast Eagles match that such a strategy would have been ineffective. In such a case the match should be called off, and the following home game should be played in an empty stadium. It’s not up to the players to act, action should come from the AFL.

As to the background, there was an incident during the ‘Indigenous Round’ in 2013, when a Collingwood supporter, a 13 year-old girl, called Goodes an ape. Goodes won plaudits for calling for her to be supported, Eddie McGuire made an ass of himself, but life went on. The incident appeared to be done and dusted.

Goodes was Australian of the Year in 2014.

I think it was during the ‘Indigenous Round’ in 2014, that Goodes performed a little dance after kicking a goal. In retrospect it may have been better to stick to football, but it was innocent enough. I think that’s right, but frankly I don’t pay much attention to the AFL.

He definitely suffered booing during the grand final against the Hawks, but I’m not sure it occurred in other games in 2014. This year it has happened repeatedly and appears to be getting worse.

State political leaders in WA, SA, NSW and Victoria have made statements, but so far we’ve only heard from Richard Di Natale (thankyou John D) at the federal level. More power to him!

Commentary elsewhere includes Tracey Holmes and Michael Bradley at The Drum.

Be sure to read Stan Grant’s powerful piece on what it feels like to be an Indigenous Australian.

Michael Safi sketches the history and puts the problem well. In the end he says:

    Probably for some the jeers are mindless, just revelling in something taboo. But increasingly, that dull drone is sounding like an assertion of power: crowds of non-Indigenous people declaring, “We will keep doing this and you can’t stop us”.

If Goodes returns and the booing continues, the AFL will need to take quite drastic action.

Comments on this thread will be moderated.

13 thoughts on “Booing Adam Goodes has to stop”

  1. It’s really pretty simple, Jumpy. When you are doing something like that and the target says they are hurt by it, you stop.

    Anyone who knows anything about bullying in schools knows that the “just toughen up” exhortation is inappropriate and unhelpful.

  2. Brian: I think what people like Thurston are planning to do is important because it underlies a widespread belief that what is happening to Goodes is completely outside the normal pattern of robust football cheering and booing.
    It is good to see an ex VFL player and party leader like Di Natale talking sense on the subject.

  3. Brian and John, evidently, neither of you have gone to a footy game let alone played in one.
    As I’ve said in the past here, Sticks and Stones.

    The Swans have 3 of the next 4 games at home. If his supporters cheers and applause drown out the boos, then, he has the ” crowd on his side ” like Cazaly
    We shall see, maybe.

  4. Bob Murphy captain of the Bulldogs has written a heartfelt, thoughtful response as a colleague of Goodes. Chris Scott from Geelong was pretty direct on the issue earlier in the week.

  5. Jumpy, if you think what’s been going on with Goodes is within the norms of what happens at the footy, then you’re in bed with a few nutters like Bolt and Alan Jones. Everyone else with half a brain seems to think a line has well and truly been crossed, and the booing needs to stop.

  6. John, the support from people like Thurston and Inglis is no doubt appreciated. I worry what happens if they get booed.

    Tony Abbott put his head above the parapets again today and made a helpful statement.

  7. I can remember Jumpy getting all hurt and unhappy when I called him names (by implication).
    Sticks and stones my friend, sticks and stones.

  8. [Redacted]
    I took issue with you calling me a liar, which I’m not.
    How many lashes of self flagellation do you think you require this time.

    [Redacted ]

  9. I’m sorry, Jumpy, there’s only one side to this story.

    I’m not going to provide a space here for supporting or condoning the bullying of Adam Goodes.

  10. Jumpy, to finish the aphorism, words will never hurt me.

    Anyone who thinks this is out of touch with how bullying commonly occurs, especially on social media amongst teenagers.

  11. I’m sorry, Jumpy, there’s only one side to this story.

    You know that’s not true, Brian.
    But if discussing the many various perspectives ( not just one participant ) of this issue brings out some of your demons, I will withdraw, for the sake of our relationship.

    Luckily I have many peers ( of many races ) to discuss issues of the day without hurty feelings getting in the way. On this issue there is unanimity among them, and the consensus differs markedly from your position.

    Over and out.

  12. Jumpy, that actually sounds a bit patronising.

    I’ve got no emotional engagement over this one, and no hidden demons. I have had knowledge and experience with bullying, to some extent myself but not so much, rather people close to me, and have thought long and rationally about its dimensions.

    There can be an argument as to whether Goodes’ strategy of pushing back against perceived racist behaviour and then entering into a ‘conversation’ with the perpetrators is a strategy that has served him well. I think it hasn’t. You get no further in conversing with these drongos than you do conversing with climate change denialists. It’s a waste of time and life is too short.

    Frances Whiting in the Courier Mail came up with the idea that players should just sit down for 5 minutes every time the booing starts. And I’d say, let the clock keep running. Not a bad idea. As the matter stands, there is an obvious power differential between the perpetrators and the victim. That could even things up a bit.

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