Black Magic? White muddle more like it

Sean Gorman believes the notion of indigenous footballers possessing a certain “magic” denies the hard work that they put in. Click on the link below to read Sean’s article from The Conversation website:


  1. Andrew Fithall says

    It has often annoyed me that whenever a commentator discusses the skills of an indigenous player, the comparison will be made with another indigneous player: “he playes like…”; never with a non-indigenous player. Nor vice versa.

    On the other hand, last year when my two daughters were playing lacrosse together, I enjoyed one of the other fathers comparing their ability to find one another amidst the on-field chaos to the Krakouer brothers.

  2. Andrew Starkie says

    Spot on, Sean. I cringe whenever I hear Morphett or any other media person scream, ‘Gee those Indigenous players can tackle!’ Isn’t that part of their job?

    When are we going to move beyond this stererotyping? This attutude and these comments wouldn’t be tolerated in many other sports around the world.

    Loved ‘Brother Boys’. I still recall vividly as a grade 6 student in 1982 being in awe of JIm and Phil. They were magic, but not because of the colour of their skin.

  3. Rick Kane says

    Thank you Sean for stating what should be taught to anyone who wants to commentate about, opine on or describe the skill, courage and attitude it takes to make a good footballer great. Sadly, I reckon, we are going to have to state this point over and over again.

    There was an article in the Age this week analysing Cyril Rioli and the comparison given was Gary Ablett Jnr. I liked it for several reasons. And one, was of course, that one footballer on the rise was compared to another footballer who has achieved the level of greatness. The comparison was their football capability – like, do’h!

    Another thought triggered by your essay and AF’s point is this. My son plays footy in Under 9s or Tackers. He played last year for one club where he hardly knew the other boys in the team. This year he is playing with two mates he has known since they were four. They are now nine. Jackson’s first kick in the scratch match was courtesy of a pass from his mate Darcy. Now Darcy could have chosen a number of boys who were calling for the ball. He choose Jackson, I think, because they have a deep relationship and not because of magic.


  4. Sean,

    you open up a can of worms which crosses contemporary Christianity divisions and Australian cultural boundaries and there fore is sensitive.

    First issue is the belief of either creation or evolution. If you believe in creation stop reading now. If you believe in evolution you are in the game.

    But then there is the issue of sensitivity of Aboriginal business and an often unwelcome white interpretation.

    I will try to be succinct and sensitive.

    It is my understanding that my mob, the white fellas, have generally evolved from more sedentary life styles and more recently plenty of high living. That slothful gene pool has endured. There are of course exceptions.

    The origional people, for example those whose forebares have been around for perhaps hundreds of thousands of years have had to live off the land in extreme conditions, have had to observe, chase and catch.

    Therefore I would argue that the slothful gene pool in their communityes would have disappeared eons ago and the sharpest and fittest have thrived. There are, of course in any populations, throw backs.

    The dominant gene pool would maintain quick reactions, excellent hand to eye coordination, physical staminer and generally low fat.

    The way in which commentators sensationalise the aboriginality of their football prowess is opportunistic, naive, uneducated and most likely offensive, but they have to justify their existance to keep their jobs on commercial television and radio. Enough said about that popular medium and it’s audience. Some of ‘Auntie’s’ callers get swept up into it but are mostly more intune.

    I suppose therefore I am arguing that there is a genetic difference and that with respect to physical activity that requires quick thinking, quick reaction and great co-ordination the Aboriginal players are, en masse, better than those of European extraction.

    The issue of the amount of physical and intellectual work each individual puts into their game preparation to enhance, or aid, their performance would be, I argue, equal accross the genetic diversity in the contemporary game.

    I suppose in a nut shell, I believe that physiological foundation blocks under pinning Aboriginal capacity at our game is superior to that of Europeans.

    No doubt I have opened up the opportunity for critisism from all quarters.

  5. It was a commonly held view when the West Indies dominated in cricket, that other (non-black) teams could never compete with their athleticism when it came to their fielding. Of course, time disproved this showing that with the right training and commitment, any team could be as good if not better on the field (but perhaps not with the style of a Viv Richards!)

  6. Not from me Phantom.

  7. Phantom – it is a beautifully made point that gives pause for thought.

    My only comment would be that white slothful beings (such as myself) have only been in existence for around 7,000 years, when farming, and thus modern civilisation, is first known to have begun. In the history of human evolution (fortunately I am able to look beyond creationism), estimated at between 5-7 million years, this represents a very small timeframe. Almost all aspects of human evolution, such as sweaty palms in situations of anxiety, remain hangovers from our hunter-gatherer origins despite being obsolete functions in today’s world.

    Therefore, it is a bit of a long bow to suggest that our Indigenous brothers and sisters have developed a substantially more adept gene pool for the rigours of Australian football in less than 7,000 years. But it may have a tiny bit of merit …

  8. smokie88 says

    All I know is that, as a young North supporter who attended every match,
    I bore witness in 1982 to on-field happenings which changed the game at
    the highest level. It was exciting and unforgettable. Phil Krakouer is
    truly an under-rated great of North Melbourne.

    On a totally different level…does anyone recall the commentator who,
    when one indiginous player passed it to an indiginous team-mate, remarked:
    “He passed it to his fellow country-man!” I almost fell out of my chair.

  9. Neil Belford says

    Just have a read of the Age this morning of the road Jeff Garlett has had to travel to become the games newest sensation. And from what I understand there is a fair bit more to the football journey he had to make than is covered in that article.

  10. #7 Rev Roo,

    fair comment but I would expect that you could select in a substantial amount sedentary slobbishness over 7,000 years (30 generations).

    When a specific gene pool gets low, in this case your fit fellas with good reflexes, it takes a long time to recover and is threatened through the lack of a substantial and robust population by the introduction of something that may appear innocuous but can push the species over the edge.

    An obvious example of this is the already vulnerable gen XXXL being adicted to I pods, texting, twitter and virtual activities.

    When they get to virtual sex human kind will be rooted. Hang on, that’s not right.

  11. Phantom – your argument may or may not be backed up with science, but all I know is that it takes 12 months to get fit, and 12 days to become a slob. So, 7000 divided by 12 days equals…..ummm……

  12. Sean Gorman says

    Phantom you are on some good shit i gotta say – can I just say one thing I hope Tim Adam is going well. Keep punchin Timbo. Paul Simon and Tom Waits all the way boys n girls heaveho — Freo by 12 points v Cows. Good luck n good night.

  13. Don’t need it Sean. I am silly enough without.

    Read the ‘Double Helix’ and watch Liam Jarrah closely and compare him with C Judd of G Abblett. All three are champions but one moves differently.

    7000 years would be about 250 to 300 generations not 30: got the maths wrong. Heaps of time, especially if one population was much more isolated than the other.

    It needs to be understood that the recessive gene is always there and ready to throw back. Biodiversity is not an exact science but it is science.

    Some times it is a little unpalatable for some people to accept that indigeneous people are better at some things than we are.

    Cheers, Phantom.

  14. Jarrah has very quick reflexes, astute decision making skills under pressure and hits the target with frighting efficiency from the few snippets I noted today.

    I am sure he didn’t get that from the ye olde Rugby gentleman’s institution.

  15. Sean Gorman says

    it is ‘Jurrah’ Fantomn

  16. Sorry. Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) has got to be Western Australian not Territorian. Jurrah jumps as high as one sometimes.

    Phantom is not F.


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