It is not often that a single athlete becomes the most controversial, and some would say, divisive person in the country.
The great Adam Goodes, Swans footballer, dual Brownlow medalist and former Australian of the Year, has dared to tread where few others go in Australian sport. He has waved his flag with pride, attempted to advance his people and, in doing so, he has incited racist behaviour never before seen in AFL football or anywhere else in the Australian sporting arena.
Goodes has been booed incessantly by AFL crowds for more than a year. Actually, not just booed. he has been abused, vilified and defamed. Those who boo, those who incite them to boo, say it is because Goodes milks free kicks and plays the game on the edge of the rules.
Those who are honest with themselves know the real reason. He is booed because Australians have been forced to look themselves in the mirror by Goodes and they don’t like what they see – a racist nation whose tolerance for indigenous athletes only stretches to affection when they don’t acknowledge their aboriginality.
Goodes has walked where few have been willing to go before him. He used his Australian of the Year award to advance his people’s cause, to bring to light the poverty and hardship so many aborigines in Australia endure. Now he has been forced to the sidelines, traumatised by the relentless nature of the attack.
For his trouble, he was singled out for ’special’ treatment by fans who have variously called him an ape, made references to King Kong and told him to go back to the zoo. This is not hundreds of footy fans. It is now, many months later, nearly every single person in crowds of up to 80,000 at Swans away games. Furthermore, it is people like Eddie McGuire and Dermott Brereton, AFL personalities who should know better who provoke and perpetuate the ugliness.
The antagonists, like McGuire and Brereton, will have you believe Goodes has brought it on himself and that the booing should continue. One commentator on Sky News even said that Goodes had ‘risen above his station’ of footballer and that was why he had offended so many white Australians.
This stuff is humiliating, embarrassing and makes people like me want to cry. The grim reality is that middle class Australia still bears huge resentment to aborigines, that people like Goodes are not welcome when they win awards and use them to advance a cause. If he had just stuck to kicking goals, he would have avoided this nonsense, they say.
You can be 'middle class’, live in your three bedroom, two bathroom house, earn six figures and buy a club membership. You can convince your kids you are civilised and tolerant, that you only boo because he milked the free kick.
At the heart of it, though, when you boo Goodes, you are showing your kids that you are just as bad as your grandparents and great-grandparents. You are as bigoted as any racist in the world and you aren’t changing for some smart arse aborigine.
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