A guide to busting the Adam Goodes excuses

As a Pies supporter, I am genuinely afraid of watching the Collingwood-Sydney match in a few weeks, and the whole ‘Goodes Thing’ has put me off footy. After seeing the “war dance” of Goodes, I loved the idea of it becoming a “thing” amongst those indigenous players who might want to adopt it too; but alas, I logged on to see nothing but hatred for (and even fear of!) it. Jetta’s actions last weekend and the reaction to it prompted me to cut off a few arguments off at the pass. No, not all those who boo are racist, but perhaps a fair percentage of them haven’t thought through what they’re doing…so, let’s get started:

1. “He ducks”. This one is easy. Until you can honestly say that you boo Joel Selwood with (and this is key) the same venom, this is not a valid argument (Selwood has – by a long shot – the most too-high free kicks for in the league).

2. “He slides”. First, this should be past-tense. He SLID. Here’s a thought you may have forgotten, since it was so damned long ago: it was perfectly legal when he did it. Did you still boo Judd years after his chicken wing, or the “pressure point”? Do you still boo Brent Harvey after any of his many offences? Barry Hall? Or do you put their offences down to brain-fades and acknowledge their other qualities?

3. “He complains”. In public, you mean? The Swans president and coach have each addressed it on his behalf, and both have been at pains to point out that Goodes had asked them to simply let it drop. Do not say that Goodes cannot handle criticism; by doing so you are confusing fact with your poorly-researched opinion; having read that others believe this to be the case, without taking the trouble to find out for yourself. The 4-time All-Australian, 3-time Swans leading goal kicker, dual premiership-playing, Australian of the Year, Brownlow-medal-winning, 3-year Swans captain took himself off to the VFL to find some form, without complaint; knowing that is what the team required of him. This is not a man who complains in public. At this point, please do not bring up those times Goodes looks wide-eyed at the umpire as though he has been hard done by. If this is the reason you are booing, take a look at your team’s full-back or -forward during your next match, and ask yourself whether you can really be bothered booing at least 2 more players every week for the sake of consistency. What’s more, what, exactly, do you demand of Goodes? He’s stayed silent until this week, and it didn’t stop. He has said it is getting to him and will have time away from football, and the boo-ers have used that to justify the “he complains” angle. Is there a third solution here he should be doing that I’m missing? Because this has all the hallmarks of the old grade 5 “heads I win, tails you lose” gag.

4. “He pointed at a 13 year-old girl”. No, he pointed to the area of the crowd from which the “ape” comment came. Even the most vehement Goodes critic must admit that voices sound shrill when people are screaming with passion for their side. Yes, it turns out she was 13. If this weren’t the case, would the pointing at her have still been wrong? If not, I wonder at what age above which we are supposed to call out racism, and the age below which it is so acceptable as to be not worthy of pointing out. Had the girl been 16, would he have been more justified? Is the difference between 17 and 18 so great that on the night of your 18th birthday your free reign of racial taunts suddenly ends? At no point did Goodes ask for her membership to be revoked or any such nonsense. He got in contact with the girl after the match and went to great lengths to explain to her the significance of what she had said. The impetus is surely on the population at large to understand the context of certain racial jibes, more than it is on the victim of these jibes to ascertain whether or not the yeller knows said context before pointing them out.

5. “Ape isn’t racist”. First of all, what gives you the right to decide who gets offended and who does not? Did you ever get your pen licence? Because this is truly primary-school thinking: “Jeez, it was just a joke…” Second, ape is racist because (deep breath…do I really need to say this?) indigenous Australians were believed to be an inferior species, and their supposed resemblance to apes was used to justify the many injustices dealt upon them. If you want to say you were using it because “he genuinely looks like one”, ask yourself if you would be OK with someone who was unaware of the cultural context calling you a bitch because you genuinely had hair that resembled that of a female dog. Or a rat because your front teeth are a little bigger than average. You might point out to them that, in your cultural context, such words are considered offensive to call someone. If they were a stranger among tens of thousands who had called you that from the sidelines while you were playing your sport of choice, however, you might assume that they understood the significance of what they were saying and decide to point them out to someone. You might be particularly tempted to do this if you’d been the victim of such taunts many times before, because you could not help the way your teeth are, or the colour of your hair, or, say, the colour of your skin.

6. “That war dance was threatening”. It was Indigenous Round. Goodes took the idea a step further than simply different guernseys and Welcome to Countrys for a week and did a war dance that had resonated with him. It was not a real spear. Imaginary spears generally pose little-to-no risk of injury. It was revealed that Lewis Jetta would have done the same that week had he kicked a goal. Just because it is unfamiliar does not make it scary. If you found this confronting please proceed to the nearest exit before buying a ticket to any film rated PG or above. For God’s sake never go to the Bledisloe Cup. If you attend or watch indigenous round and are confronted by an indigenous war dance that you have not seen before, maybe it could instead intrigue you and make want to know more about the World’s Oldest Continuing Culture during the round that is supposed to acknowledge its not insignificant contribution to the sport you are witnessing.

7. “Yeh there are people doing it for racist reasons but I just think he’s a flog”. Fine; you’re entitled to think that. If you disagree with any of the above points and consider even one of them to be reasonable grounds for consistent booing for the rest of the 4-time All-Australian, 3-time Swans leading goal kicker, dual premiership-playing, Australian of the Year, Brownlow-medal-winning, 3-year Swans captain’s career, there is nobody able to stop you. But why did you only decide to start booing after he won Australian of the Year? Where was your chorus of boos any time before 2014? Did what he said confront you, or did you start doing it because others were doing it and it suddenly seemed like a good idea? Just know that it did not begin because someone miraculously remembered how Goodes used to slide in years ago, but because they took offence at his Australian of the Year statements. Others thought it seemed a good idea, and still others made up reasons to continue it. If you think he acts badly on the field, then see if you remember ever booing Juddy for a full year and a half after his “chicken wing” and “pressure point” incidents. Or did you manage to get over that and give him a fitting send-off? Even if you hear the boos directed at Lindsay Thomas or Hayden Ballantyne, any sane person can spot the difference between what Francis Leach terms a “pantomime boo” and a venomous one. The Goodes chorus is strong, genuinely hateful and full of venom. Those for Ballantyne are almost playful in nature; knowing he’s the villain who you love to hate, but would never wish to be out of the game.

So just know that when you boo Goodes, you’re giving cover for those who do it for nefarious reasons. Those who post comments like, “is that a ‘monkey’ grip”? “Maybe he hadn’t had enough bananas” and “someone shoulda grabbed him at birth too so he’d neva got a hold of a footy in the 1st place”. Just know that when you boo, this is company you are not only keeping, but encouraging to think the way they do. Ask yourself if you were the only one in the ground – and Goodes ran right up to you and looked you in the eye – whether you would boo him to his face. If the answer is yes, fine. But if the answer is no, then perhaps you are finding solace in the fact that others are doing something that you do not necessarily believe in, but are willing to follow anyway. I certainly won’t assume you’re racist, but I also don’t have to assume that you’ve thought very hard about why you’re doing what you’re doing.

About Lachie Gaylard

Lachie is a Melbourne teacher, musician, writer, surfer and Collingwood supporter who is eternally grateful to his parents for putting him on the MCC membership list at birth. He keeps some travel writing here: http://climbingatree.wordpress.com/ and some European writings here: https://lochieg.exposure.co/ and a little photography here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/soldered_mind/


  1. Lachie


    I was actually considering some form of a similar sort of piece earlier today, but this far surpasses what I would have done.

    In simple terms, I just don’t get the booing. I have written in the past that I reserve the right to boo, like when Nadal played for time in the Oz Open final.

    But whether ror not everyone who boos is racist or is doing it for the reasons you have well espoused above, it is wrong.

    In HR and employment law, intent is not an excuse for harassment and bullying, it is how the person subject to it takes it. If he feels it is racist and feels it is because of his skin,comments etc, then it is and we should stop.

    We should stop for any indigenous player, let alone one as decorated as you mention above.

    So, great piece, well set out, love it.

    My real struggle with this though, besides overwhelming guilt at my fellow Aussies for what they are doing, is that I really still struggle with the war dance. I think we are encouraging a take sides issue with this, that is harsh. I think I can safely feel that the booing is disgraceful, but also hold an opinion that the war dance is out of line. Can I have a foot in both camps or dangle a toe over the line? Can I think booing is awful but the dance was wrong? Difficult that.

    Again though, love the piece and overwhelming agree with all other points


  2. Jen Costello says

    Thank you Lachie

  3. G’day Lachie, i’m curious if you’ve considered the opinion of our eminent Attorney general George Brandis. Correct me if i’m wrong, but back in 2014 his defence of the concept of free speech included that people should be allowed to be bigots. Surely in the treatment of Adam Goodes, aren’t a lot of the booers enacting what Mr Brandis said. should be allowed. Your thoughts ?


  4. Grant Fraser says

    For one in the “do not comment until you know” camp I find this piece extremely thought provoking.
    In the absence of direct evidence sometimes circumstantial evidence can be sufficient (as a general proposition and without prejudice to the circumstances of this issue….).

    Chapeau Lachie.

  5. Good on you Lachie: you told it like it is, and anyone who can’t agree with your article is either a committed racist or an idiot.

  6. Joe Moore says

    Bravo, Lachie. Bravo!

  7. jan courtin says

    Lachie, you are definitely one Collingwood supporter I love!
    Great article

  8. bob utber says

    Well presented Lachlan – in fact brilliant. Send a copy to D.Brereton and others like him.
    Should be compulsory reading for all the racists out there.

  9. Mark Giuliano says

    Fantastic Lachie,

    The other thing I would highlight to those who use the latest news that he is considering retirement to support their case that he is a whinger, is that he he clearly stated that his reason for this is because of the impact it is having on the team.

    Previously he had also pleaded for a cessation to the booing out of consideration for his family, friends and teammates.

    His actions are often driven by his desire to support others – including the War Dance for the U16 Boomerang kids.

    I have also personally experienced his extreme warmth and caring nature in a couple of brief interactions with my 4 young children. An absolute beacon of all that is good about human nature !!! As opposed to the beacons of the opposite that we have been subjected to over recent weeks.

    Somehow, I manage to retain faith that the vast majority of Australians remain fair and reasonable people, and it is just a case that the vitriolic, hate-filled, noisy minority are drowning them out. I just wish there was a way for them to go somewhere else and revel in their like-mindedness without having to subject the rest of us (especially our precious children) to their filth.

    As Nathan Buckley has said, they are nothing but cowards who take solace (or somehow feel better about their pathetic selves) by attempting to drag down others that they feel inferior to. In this case, it is particularly galling for them to feel inferior to a person of a race that they are “supposed” to be superior to !

    PS. When is somebody going to do some research to prove the significant inverse relationship between racist attitudes and IQ’s.

    I expect that many of these booing morons lack the mental capacity to justify it even in their own feeble minds.

  10. Tom Riordan says

    Lachie, you’ve hit the nail on the head with all of these points, and hit those morons booing him right between the eyes.

    Great piece.

  11. Sean Gorman says

    Huzzaa Huzzaa. Lachie you da man.

  12. hey Lachie

    I love your post. I posted the below on Sydney morning herald website. I feel quite passionate about it and was wondering if you had a point of view.

    Is Adam goodes the most hated man in history? He must be. Every supporter from every club is boing the man and it’s been going on since at least round nine last year. I can’t recall any other player ever, being subjected to such harassment for such a long period of time from every club.and for what reason? He hasn’t king hit anybody, he hasn’t raped anybody, he hasn’t taken any drugs, he’s not dealing in drugs, he hasn’t slept with his best friends wife, He hasn’t incited any crowd violence at the football, He is respectful opposition players and is basically a law abiding citizen. The fact that he has been booed more constantly than any other player in history, to me translates that he is in fact the most hated player in history. But why? If you consider other unpopular players in the history of the game, it has generally been due to matters which did not involve their actions on the field. (I am not going to name them in this forum). So being a sook, dirty player and milking free kicks would not make Adam Goodes the most unpopular player in history, as there have been plenty before him with these traits. That means this relentless and ever increasing booing by opposition fans is related to matters other than what is occurring on the football field. So what has he done? I think few people would argue with me, that it began in the indigenous round of 2013 when he singled out 13-year-old girl for racial vilification.many people felt that he should have put up and shut up at that moment.

    This raises very interesting scenario. We live in a society the preachers zero tolerance to racism and zero tolerance to bullying. Adam Goodes has been accused by many of bullying that girl, and maybe the have a case.
    In that instance many people made the decision that bullying was worse than racism.then Adam Goodes controversially was awarded the Australian of the year. Once again many people were outraged, that this Footballer who bullied that girl could be the Australian of the year, regardless of the fantastic work he has been doing within the indigenous community. So it would seem that many people believe that bullying is worse and unforgivable, even if you do a lot of charitable work within the aboriginal community. A righteous stand indeed! So, a small number of these righteous people have decided that they should start booing because they don’t like how he plays and what he does, sometime early in the 2014 season. Then the racism card came out. Now that really was a low blow. Supporters should be able to boo whoever they want without having to be subjected to a racism card, that’s totally unacceptable when someone has bullied someone else and hasn’t it been amazing how many other righteous people have come out in support since, every club is doing it now. Its a real win for freedom of expression. 2of 3

    NO IT’S NOT! What is happening to Adam Goodes is a disgraceful display of en masse bullying at its raw form with racial connotations. Each boo he receives is a personal attack on his character by faceless people who have primarily decided that racism is not as bad bullying, yet these same people are bullying Adam Goodes into an early retirement. Our society has such an incredible long way to go in the area of Zero tolerance to bullying and racism and the treatment of Adam Goodes is a most shameful moment in our history. I bet that the 13yo girl from 2 years ago is looking at this situation in amazement in how a possibly innocent racist comment has turned Adam Goodes into the most unpopular player in history. Racism may well not be the primary reason for this, but it is a contributing factor which seems to be regarded as somewhat trivial within certain sectors of our society.

  13. Mick Jeffrey says

    There are a lot of prominent writers paid decent money by global conglomerates who would be wise to read this (although I wouldn’t hold my breath). Sure my view may be clouded by my indigenous background, but even though I don’t believe the booing in itself has racial overtones I find the reasoning many give for their booing cheap and petty. These thoughts in a nutshell confirm my thinking, and I’m glad to commend this article to anyone who may care.

  14. Grant Fraser says

    Lachie an overnight reflection prompted by your article that highlights the timing of the Goodes…well, you know what (is a bit like Voldemort as I am sick of hearing the word). I only became aware of the …issue….at last year’s Grand Final. It was even more evident when the Mighty Fightings played Siddey at the G earlier this year – that is when it really blew up. Until that point it was my impression that the issue was confined to Hawks supporters – hence a range of Hawks related “explanations” that are included in your piece above. Whilst I did not watch the game, it was my impression that the West Coast supporters got in on the act and were …(insert b word)…#37 as well.

    Did the Weagles crowd suddenly become racist? Did some dills think it might be funny and the sheep followed? Does the spread of the phenomenon say more about crowd participation and a sense of kinship/antagonism toward an opposition that anything else?

    And why are some elements in the commentary debate portraying this as a “White Australian” thing – take a survey of your average crowd and I am sure you will find a lot of wholemeal, rye and grain…not just white bread. Makes it interesting if European, Middle East and Asian Australians are participating – what it their motivation to do the you know what?

  15. The question was did the Eagles crowd suddenly become racist? The answer is No, because elements within always were but like sheep they have only just started to express it

  16. Lachie/Grant/TJ etc. You raise many good points that have been rattling around in my head the last few days, particularly as I continue to have the same exasperating debate with people I generally respect who “don’t like Goodes”. But this is not a problem of logic, that can be resolved by logic. Goodes has (brutally unfairly) become a lightning rod for a lot of deeply felt but unarticulated frustrations/exasperations in Australian (and western world) societies. Some racist, but many not.
    It goes along the lines of the exasperated parent responding to the ungrateful rebellious boy/child (often drug addicted) adolescent – “I gave you everything and this is how you thank me”.
    Many of the people voicing this (and booing Goodes) are the hard working, second generation migrant “we dragged ourselves up by our bootstraps from nothing when dad arrived here with nothing” people. And resentful suddenly unemployed FIFO’s who thought the mining boom was forever.
    The response is unfocused, unarticulate and guttural.
    But Goodes has become (totally unreasonably) the whipping boy for something that Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin in their rat-like hearts know how to dog whistle and exploit.
    The chattering classes and those of us who like to think we are progressive, ignore at our peril.
    Prohibition works about as well for racism as it does for alcohol. The black market (no pun intended) flourishes in unexpected places – hence the illogical and misdirected attacks on Goodes.
    Tony Abbott/Andrew Bolt as Knuckey Thompson (Boardwalk Empire)?
    I tried to touch on this 2 years ago at the time of the original ape/Eddie incident.
    Thanks to all those who have contributed so thoughtfully to thinking this all through on the Almanac site.
    https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/thanks-eddie/ (May 2013)

  17. Grant Fraser says

    It has been enlightening, respectful and thought provoking Peter. I contrast this to the vitriolic diatribes that I saw when I stumbled on to the “AFL Supporters” (or suchlike) Facebook page last night. Truly frightening in its condemnation of the player.

    I honestly believe it has been a debate worth having, but believe it is almost worth depriving the debate of further oxygen. The latent elements of which TJ has spoken are likely to have only seen the light due to blanket media coverage of the issue. Absent that, but without solving any underlying issue that might exist (and how to solve that??), the problem might have remained localised to Grand Finals and Grand Final rematches….

  18. Really well put together, Lachie.

    Love your work.

  19. John Byrne says

    Unfortunately we live in the shadow of our past. We cannot ignore the truth, although some have re-written our history and will continue to do so, Keating’s (or Don Watson’s) Redfern Speech should be at the core of our history curriculum for generations to come. Villifying Goodes is a symptom of what has been denied (Howard, Bolt, Jones and Windshuttle come to mind) but can’t be erased. Oppression takes many forms.
    Rudd’s apology was made on behalf of the nation – regrettably there is still a significant number of us who would rather the blackfella went away or just kept to themselves.
    Well done Lachie

  20. Lachie very well put together and I believe really covers all the issues.

    Grant – you are right in that much discussion has been linked to white Australia – probably just because it is the colonizing race and the dominant still in the country and at games. However, you don’t need to be white to be racist so the presence of other races partaking in this booing of Goodes does not therefore mean it is not racist. even if the intention is not there for some it should be blatantly obvious by now that by doing it they just provide cover for the type of people that are popping up on message boards and comment sections of certain articles that as you pointed out are really very extreme in the condemnation of the man.

  21. Grant Fraser says

    Djlitsa – absolutely agree. Anyone of any race can be racist. My comments were more aimed, enquiringly if you will, at the potential phenomenon of some who decades ago may have been downtrodden doing the down treading now. Purely speculative, and interesting in terms of population dynamics.

  22. Paul Young says

    Well said Lachie.

    I’m a little peeved by the media to say it is the booing of Goodes that is getting to him…as if this the only form of vilification. If it was only some booing during the game, I’m sure Adam would have brushed it off as he has in his previous 300 plus stellar games. But it isn’t. The internet, the various forms of commercial media, especially social media forums such as facebook and twitter are full of racists and bigots spewing out their hatred for the bloke. It’s 24/7 and without a doubt one of the most talked about and shameful episodes in Australian sporting history.

    It is a national disgrace. And I’m not sure we can ever find a remedy while we have the white privileged class of the likes of Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones, Dermot Brereton (who really should know better), Miranda Devine and Ross Greenwood, etc, either telling Goodesy to change his ways (like a good little aborigine) or justifying the vilification.

    I can only take heart from the mature commentary offered on the Footy Almanac and the way the AFL community has reacted.

  23. Marcus Holt says

    Just want to point out what appears to be a small error in your piece Lachie. You claim to be a Collingwood fan. This can’t be right. Such wise, mature, balanced and commendable writing surely can’t have Magpie origins? :)

  24. Paul Young

    I’d like to echo a couple of your really, very pertinent points :

    If only it were limited to 2 hours of booing per week. It is the hatred, bile and vitriol that spews from these morons that makes me sick to the pit of my stomach, so I can’t even fathom how the target of their filth would be feeling.

    For all the downside, I hope that these pathetic people feel better about themselves for a little while. How dare an intelligent, articulate, caring, thoughtful man have the temerity to be an aborigine !

    Without the mature commentary offered on the Footy Almanac and the way the AFL community has reacted, I would be heartbroken.

    The morons must see it all so clearly. There is this despicable human being called Adam Goodes…….. and then there have been over footballs history a litany of criminals. I’d could list some of the names but will not out of desire to not lower myself to the standards of these morons.

  25. Dermott Brereton or Adam Goodes to be a role model for my children ?? Hmmmm tough decision.

    One of them could compare skateboards with my kids. Could compare hairstyles. Could giggle with them at puerile matters. Could be so full of himself that nothing else (nor nobody else) matters. Could show what a great person he is by describing most others as “a ripping bloke”. Could giggle childishly when a player sneakily punches another on the football field. Is comfortable behave like somebody a third of his age. Is about as solid as a blancmange.

    And then there is Adam Goodes who, quite simply, has not put a foot wrong. Oh no, wait ……. he stood up for what he believed in.

  26. I knew there was a way of illustrating the feebleness of the ‘1276 indigs in the AFL and he’s the only one we boo!’ bleat, but couldn’t quite nail it.

    Then about half an hour ago a car pulled up next to me at the traffic lights. Through his opoen window I heard Eric Clapton singing, ‘I Shot the Sherriff (But I didn’t shoot the deputy}.’

    Eureka! Great song…..dreadful legal defence.

  27. Michael Viljoen says

    Thanks Lachie,
    After reading the comments coming after the articles on Goodes on our main daily tabloid I felt rather dismayed. Reading the attitude here amongst most of Almanac folk has cheered me up a bit.

    I know there’s been many times I’ve showed anger and protest at bad umpiring decisions. Though usually rather near sighted, that might fall under the category of ‘fair comment’ or ‘freedom of expression’, and I don’t think even the umpires would want to deny us that right. But any sensible person would realise that this must be in the context of genuine respect of umpires’ contribution and their dignity. For without umpires, there is no game.

    But imagine if your main reason for going to the football, or your great delight, was to come and abuse the umpires. That would require a special kind of troglodyte indeed.

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