Booing Adam Goodes

It’s on again. It’s been tooted about since Saturday, caulking up the airwaves around the Carlton v Malthouse saga; indignant radio types were deploring the besmirching of a great indigenous Australian. Why do people boo Adam Goodes? I know why many Maybloomers do, but I’m more interested how the subject is scrutinised by the so-called experts. In other words how the subject of racism is explored within popular culture.

Commentators within the media don’t get the Hawthorn v Goodes thing, with the exception of one, a “spin king” on Radio SEN no less. Some plonk for outright racism, some think it’s the tall poppy syndrome and some think Goodes “unAustralian” for dobbing on a racist; truly Mick McGuane actually posited that one on Radio 927. All that tells me is they don’t get racism and the insidious vileness that it generates. I hope they were all disgusted when Howard decided to re-invade indigenous Australia, probably not.

The booing has got nothing to do with race or politics or because he’s a “tall poppy”. He certainly doesn’t get booed because of pointing out a young racist at a game, he had every right for doing that and while the actions of security made me cringe, I think the supervising adult should’ve been kicked out, but I wouldn’t hold Goodes responsible for that. He did the right thing! The booing began before this incident, at least for Hawthorn it did.

I’ve got no idea what Goodes’ politics are. I don’t care about such lame nationalist awards as Australian of the Year, but I know some fine people have been so awarded and I don’t begrudge it to Goodes. I wouldn’t accept it, but then the likes of me will never be considered so it’s not an issue.

For the record I don’t boo Adam Goodes but I’ve been know to boo; not Goodes; but the likes of Ross Oakley, Bruce Ruxton, Peter Reith at the docks and the odd umpire. Booing can be likened to Marx’s “sigh of the oppressed” (the bit before the “opium of the masses”) it’s the voice of the plebs, the great unwashed and can be a form of catharsis. Often it’s about the only way you can contribute. “Tutt tutt” I can hear some people say. My primary school principal, Mr Gray, once gave a bunch of boys a ferocious dressing down for booing a visiting netball team. “Disgraceful and ungracious” I heard him tell them. They were all ashamed. But booing persists because if people are allowed to cheer, or jeer then they can also boo. Too bad if others don’t approve.

Hawthorn know how brilliant a player Goodes has been and I’ve begrudging respect for the numerous times he’s destroyed Hawthorn, almost single handed and of course he played his best game for the year against Hawthorn on Saturday. Maybloomers boo Goodes because a few years ago he slid feet first into a pack in a game at the SCG. It wasn’t the first time he had done that sort of thing. Unfortunately, a once brilliant player has fallen into the unedifying habit of staging and whinging. He also gets booed because he is a perennial stager, a poser and some think him a bit of a poonce.

Within any mob there are all kinds, some are fine and some lousy, yet Australian football crowds are usually well behaved, generous to all players and knowledgeable. I’ve never known racists to distinguish themselves by booing; usually they identify themselves by words. On Saturday night people booed but they didn’t racially abuse Goodes, not even on the quiet. They reminded each other of Goodes past indiscretions while some lamented the booing because it sounded racist, but no one was racist.

In the end I put a stop to my Lil’ Fella booing because I didn’t want him dragged into the whole conflated affair. I explained why I didn’t want him to boo but he had no idea what I was on about. He doesn’t like Goodes because Goodes kicks goals against the Mustardpots. He was booing because others were. Booing can be self-perpetuating. I know why people boo Adam Goodes and I don’t mind.



  1. The Wrap says

    I was at that match too Steve. (We have Maybloomers amongst our extended family and I snuck in on an unused membership ticket). Tell me, is it only against Hawthorn that he gets booed? Interesting.

    I’ve always regarded him as – in old fashioned footy parlance – a dirty player. A sniper. And felt he got away with things maybe other players wouldn’t have because of his squeaky clean, dual Brownlow image. Even his coach of one time, Paul Roos, told him to cool it. Could that be the reason? And why only from Leafblower Faithful? (If that be the case)

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Steve I repeat the comment I made on Joe Moores article that Hawks supporters feel that Crawford should have been australian of the year and some how blame Goodes for winning the award( have received some feedback along those lines as well )

  3. Grant Fraser says

    Steve – out of fairness I must pose the same question to you as I did to those on the post for the “case against”…does your belief as to the motivation for the booing stem from first hand knowledge from the lips of a boo booer?

  4. DBalassone says

    Interesting. Thanks for the clarification. Can you now explain to me why Hawthorn supporters used to boo Neville Bruns?

  5. Steve Hodder says

    Hmm Let me see;

    Mr Wrap, when I think dirty I think “Rotten Ronnie”, Terry Wheeler or Big Carl et al but I see where you’re coming from. In later years I think Goodes has fallen into a bit of “sniping”, not too dirty but certainly unsavoury. The “boots” incident was the most blatant and was reprehensible at worst or at least bloody careless. There were previous “physical” incidents against Haw but that was the specific incident that really set the booing off on a large scale. It had started about 2011 by was entrenched by the GF in 2012. I have no idea whether other opposition barrackers boo him, I thought it was a peculiarly Haw V Goodes thing.

    Malcolm, I’ve never heard of the “Shane Crawford theory” before. I can’t imagine why Crawford would’ve been nominated, then again, I’ve no idea what Goodes did to deserve the award either. I don’t think there is any credibility in that theory at all.

    Grant, my belief about what motivates Maybloomers to boo Goodes comes from sitting amongst Haw members at half a dozen Haw v Syd games over the years and the never-ending discussions within a network of family and friends whom barrack for the mighty Mustardpots. Not one racist comment has ever been uttered in my presence; otherwise all indigenous players from all sides would be on the receiving end of it; theoretically. Then again, these days my social network is quite middle aged and drawn primarily from a mixture of the trades and professions and they all know my views on such issues anyway. I have asked my dyed-in-the-wool Swans cousin what he thought and he couldn’t think of anything, other than racism, but he really had no clue.

    Mr DBalssone, the Bruns incident is easy to explain. Bruns was always considered to be a tad dirty and then during that “infamous” match at Kardinia Park, Matthews inexplicably belted him from behind. Hawthorn barrackers needing a reason why Matthews would do such a thing (there had been a minor scuffle earlier between the two) put the blame on Bruns for Matthew’s de-registation. A simple case of blaming the victim. An interesting case study for the psychologist.


  6. Grant Fraser says

    Thanks Steve – first hand knowledge. Perfect.

    And as for Bruns – I was there on the press box wing for that game. From memory earlier in the day Bruns belted Tucky and Jacko had a crack at anyone in a Hawks jumper. Leigh’s was an ill-disciplined cheap shot for which he was appropriately remorseful, and for which Steve Hocking sent his nose to the next suburb…but I tend to agree that The Faithful saw Bruns as bearing responsibility as the alternative was too unpalatable.

  7. daniel flesch says

    From Caroline Wilson’s piece in today’s Age :” At half-time Sydney chairman Andrew Pridham reportedly addressed the unsavoury crowd behaviour with AFL executives Mark Evans and Dorothy Hisgrove, pointing out that Goodes was booed now every time he played in Melbourne.” So is it just Hawthorn crowds or do other teams supporters do it ? And Steve Hodder , i think you are spot -on . Every word. Thanks.

  8. Steve, I’m not sure why you felt the urge to run a separate thread, perhaps to talk about the “case against”. Maybe that’s helpful in separating aspects of the discussion.

    In any case thank you for stating clearly, from a Hawks perspective, exactly what prompts the booing. I thought a clear statement deserves as clear a response as I can manage.

    I don’t recall the feet first incident you mention but I accept that it happened, and perhaps more than once. What I do notice is that if that’s so, then Adam has pretty much eliminated it from his repertoire. On this misdemeanour Swans fans have a much more serious gripe with North’s Lindsay Thomas, who was responsible for Gary Rohan’s broken leg, but while he is not much favoured by Swan fans, I’ve never at any time in a Swans/North match heard anything like the concerted booing Goodesy receives from a section of Hawthorn fans. So why the difference?

    Staging, posing and whingeing are all things Adam has done at some time; some players tend to do that sort of thing more than others, and at one point, as I am told, Paul Roos advised him to cut it out. I don’t think it is such a marked aspect of his play now, even if he does the occasional “did you see that” to assist the umpires in their task. On the other hand there are several layers who have made it an art form: Matty Lloyd was a master of the art, challenged for supremacy by Adam Selwood and Lindsay Thomas. They didn’t and don’t get the Goodes treatment, and Thomas is, of course, an indigenous player. Again, why the difference?

    Hawthorn fans also dislike Goodes as a “dirty player”, “sniper” etc, but Stevey J is even more so (just ask McVeigh, although he wouldn’t say it) and he doesn’t get the Goodes treatment. If it was an academic achievement, Hawthorn’s own Hodgey, a genuinely great player in his own right, would by now be an Emeritus Professor (welcome back after your recent spell Hodgey) but nobody boos him week in week out.

    Finally, some Hawthorn fans consider Adam “a bit of a poonce”. I’d never come across the word, although I knew “ponce”, but a couple of online dictionaries give both words the meanings of homosexual man and/or effeminate man. I realise you are reporting what you’ve heard, not condoning. My own response is “Bogans abound,how charming.”

    Finally may I recommend a piece by The Age’s Jake Niall I referred to in the other thread. As I said there, I think he’s closer to an answer to the questions than anyone else I’ve heard.

    I hope you will see all this as an attempt to be constructive and to understand. I’d be interested to know what you think about Niall’s contribution.

  9. Grant Fraser says

    @Don – I would be interested in your take on my take on Niall’s take…on the other thread (worse than the tennis, this to and fro).

    And the discussion is at a high level across the board despite the obvious passions…keep it up everyone.

  10. Malcolm Ashwood says

    I emailed 10 Hawks supporters this morning and got back responses varying from plays for free kicks,show off but the majority was the 1 where they thought Crawf should have won australian of the year re his breast cancer work not 1 said it had to do with any perception of Goodes being dirty etc

  11. Grant Fraser says

    @Malcolm – I am truly astounded…both as to their reason and admission of booing. People are strange, as Jim would say. Thanks to you for first hand advice.

  12. Steve Hodder says

    I never meant to open up a “separate thread”. I’ve listened to the debate for a while, ask a few people, told my son to stop booing on saturday night, thought about it, listened to the absolute bullshit on the radio driving to work and yesterday decided to write something up, for the almanac, at lunchtime. By the time I’d got home, done my fatherly duties, watched Marngrook with the kids, sent them to bed and opened up the Almanac; Joe’s piece was off and running. Basically he’d beaten me to the punch, but mine is the alternate view. That is, what caused Hawthorn barrackers to boo initially and the kind of booing I was hearing Saturday night.

    Lots of players have been booed in the past and many will be in the future. Maybe the Goodes thing has morphed into something else? Reading everyone’s stuff I’m not sure we will ever know now, the whole thing is bogged down in supposition and hunches, that include’s Jake Niall’s article too.

    No one has any real evidence that they saw or heard people booing for racist reasons. They just think its is because …. and they don’t want to accept the other reasons. Let’s face it, racism is as nasty as it gets and perhaps people are looking for it’s symptoms in a kind of vigilante kind of way? I just wish the same people would be out there supporting land rights (as in give the land back and start paying rent if you want to use it), indigenous economic determination, better health outcomes, better educational outcomes and better employment prospects. Not just polite behaviour at the footy.

    Now it seems like the whole saga is a lot bigger than just Haw v Goodes and if that’s the case then the booing needs to stop. Whatever Goodes’ past indiscretions, if what others are posting are accurate about what some knuckleheads are saying then he doesn’t need to be pilloried in that way. There are way too many other important things to boo.


  13. Dave Brown says

    A bit obscure but I have a Crows fan mate that hates Nathan Van Berlo. He has hated him almost since he first set foot on an AFL ground – he reckons VB burns the football. Ever since then every time VB makes a skill error, said mate is on his back. It doesn’t matter how many good things he does; the captains’ goals he used to kick at crucial moments; all of his other effective disposals. Every turnover is further confirmation of his uselessness – confirmation bias in action. The thing is, neither he nor I know exactly why this started – why did he notice Van Berlo’s errors in particular and then use that to confirm and maintain his dislike.

    This thread spends a lot of time getting at the what (sniping, diving, sooking) but not the why of the booing of Adam Goodes. Why have Hawks (and other) fans noticed Goodes in the first place and deemed him boo-worthy for acts that other players noted above are not booed in such a systematic and forceful fashion? Nothing he can do will placate those seeking confirmation. Every time he lowers the head or appeals for a free kick, like every other player in the competition, it is further fuel for the fire.

    It doesn’t mean anybody is being explicitly racist but it also doesn’t mean that instinctual racism isn’t part of the why.

  14. Andrew Read says

    Steve, it is naive in the extreme to think that racism has no part in the booing of Goodes. The on-field ‘offences’ to which you refer are trivial in the context of his 350-plus game career. Two full years have passed since the incident with Gibson. Many other players have done the same and much worse. Yet no other player is subject to the consistent booing that Goodes receives.

    Why would this be the case? What distinguishes Goodes from the rest? Surely the most likely reason is that he is an Aboriginal man who has been outspoken against racism. By taking a strong, uncompromising stand against racism he makes others uncomfortable. He gets labelled as a whinger and a cry-baby. When he was put on a pedestal for his actions, others became even more resentful. Consciously or unconsciously, these attitudes, this discomfort, this resentment underlie the booing.

  15. Dave Nadel says

    I don’t accept that Goodes’ booing is about his on-field behaviour either. Collingwood fans would consider Joel Selwood’s ducking a far more egregious form of cheating than anything Goodes does (check some of the Pies’ websites) but Collingwood fans don’t boo Duckwood and (unfortunately) some do boo Goodes

    Most of the most persistent booing seems to deal with off-field issues. Judd gets regularly booed by some fans because they feel he behaved like a mercenary when he effectively auctioned his services upon his return to Melbourne. Buckley used to get booed (quite unfairly) when he moved to Melbourne. Stephen Milne was a target for years, not so much because of his alleged crimes, but because it appeared some police with St Kilda connections interfered with evidence on his behalf.

    And then were some indigenous players who were clearly being booed for racist reasons. You are wrong, Steve, that people don’t boo on racist grounds. Jimmy Krakouer (one of the most talented players to ever to kick a footy) was regularly booed in the 80s so was Chris Lewis in the 90s.

    There are some on-going cases of players being booed for on-field activities, but usually for specific dramatic incidents rather than cheating or gaming the system. Others have already referred to Bruns and Matthews. O’Dea was booed at every game he played against Collingwood until his retirement after he destroyed John Greening’s career and nearly his life with a cowardly blow behind the play. If O’Dea appeared at one of the periodic AFL processions honouring old players I would still boo him but that was an exceptional incident.

  16. Steve Hodder says

    Whooa there Dave,
    I never said or implied that people have not booed for racist reasons in the past. I wrote that the initial booing by Hawthorn types was not racist, from my memory it predates the 2013 stuff and that the booing on Sat, where I sat, was not racist. I’m willing to accept that it has grown into something else (or perhaps some racist used the initial booing as an opportunity to boo for racist reasons) which is why I agree that people shouldn’t boo Goodes, regardless of perceived indiscretions. I do think that the accusation of racism is a serious one, because racism is a serious breach of human rights, so to make a general accusation of racism is a big big accusation; and deep down I think a lot of people are working from “gut instinct”. I have no gripe with Goodes’ celebrity status or his politics.

    But, the whole Almanac debate has enlightened me to how widespread the issue has become and obviously spread beyond Haw v Goodes. Thus the booing needs to stop and the bloke needs to be left alone to play his footy.

    the “pounce” word; in the school yard vernacular of my childhood; poonce meant dickhead, dropkick etc but the Macquarie Dictionary gives its original meaning as “homosexual or effeminate” and that wasn’t my meaning; even if I was relaying how others have described Adam Goodes, I doubt that those users meant it that way either. Not a nice word in the circumstances.

    Just like Joe’s post, a fairly well managed debate but I’d like to bow out from here on. It’s Friday and time to watch Mr Goodes et al break a few bluesy hearts.

    onyas all.

  17. Grant Fraser says

    @Andrew – here we go again. How can you say with confidence that it is naive to assert that the booing has nothing to do with racism? How do you KNOW? Have you read the other thread that give first hand alternative reasons? What is the basis for your “most likely” speculation? Come on – be informed, not merely reactionary and expressing a view that fits your view of the world. All I/we ask is that people consider legitimate alternatives based on fact and first hand evidence.

  18. Steve Hodder says

    (Had to come back with this) just been reading some Shelby Steele online. Why Jake Niall would quote him is beyond me, Steele seems the very antithesis of the “booing = racism” contention. A very odd choice for expert reference. Anyways, enough said. Good luck to Goodes.

  19. I believe this has started as something innocent. Hawks supporters reacting to perceived dirty play or diving. But after two years, come on. It has outgrown itself, into something a bit more nasty than that. The booing has been co-opted by every bogan and his dog. It has been taken over with subterfuge, and racists love it cause they can taunt and say “oh he is a diver, boooooo”.

    Hawks brethren, it would now be civil to move on and disown the Goodes boo. If it meant something before, it is now defined in a completely different way. It was fun for a while, but now is the time to move on.

    Also, i don’t think our Indig players appreciate the Goodes boo-ing either, and I can’t see how it helps their game.

    PS, Craw for Aust of year. Pttt, my vote is for TISM.

    PSS i would love to see Hawks team co-opt an Indig war dance for the start of the game, something like the Hakka. Maybe that’s something we can consult our Indig players about. Groundbreaking, intimidating, and good for the team. Go Hawks!!

  20. Steve,

    I was at the game – a neutral who was hosting some UK sports nuts – and we were all pretty perplexed by the visceral nature and the relentlessness of the booing. The game was close – a beauty even in this age of 1/2 court footy – yet Hawks fans relished every Goodes’ involvement, leaping from their seats seething. My UK friends – no strangers to terrace buffoonery – just assumed that he was being targeted because he was a) pretty good and b) black. Just as I now have great difficulty explaining the ebb and flow of the game these days, I was struggling to put any other spin on it. My brief explanation was that Hawthorn is a middle-class club who vote ‘blue’ and their traditional news-sources have targeted Goodes as an uppity black who ‘has gone too far’ and has ‘spoilt it for everyone’. So carte blanche ’cause they know their ‘thought leaders’ will defend them to the hilt. One UK lass posited “..sounds like Ali ..” and I couldn’t disagree.

    Actually ruined a good sports occasion and took me back to the Krakouer days. Quite depressing in fact.

  21. Paul Young says

    Steve said: . “Now it seems like the whole saga is a lot bigger than just Haw v Goodes and if that’s the case then the booing needs to stop. Whatever Goodes’ past indiscretions, if what others are posting are accurate about what some knuckleheads are saying then he doesn’t need to be pilloried in that way. There are way too many other important things to boo.”

    Thanks Steve, you appear to be one of the mature Hawks supporters. As you have suggested to do it now is a bad look.

    For a massive group of fans to continue the booing it would be embarrassing for the game and in particular the club involved. (as Tim has alluded to.)

    I follow North and I’m really hoping he doesn’t get booed en masse by the Roos fans (when we play them in a few weeks time) from the start of the game.

    I am an unabashed Adam Goodes fan. I really find it hard to comprehend why the hatred and nastiness is so intense. I have my suspicions and like others think the “dirty player” excuses are wearing thin. But I can’t prove it’s racially motivated so I’ll leave it at that.

    Nice to wander over to Footy Almanac and read some mature & measured discussion on the Goodes issue than the puerile rubbish being served up on Twitter, Facebook and some of the Footy forums.

  22. Steve Hodder says

    Tim and Paul,
    when I wrote this piece originally I thought the booing was specifically a Goodes v Haw thing. You don’t hear the rest of the ground when you sit amongst your own booing lot. I also don’t listen to analysis of other games and so I’d missed that the booing was pervasive.

    Let’s say the whole Almanac discussion opened my eyes to something I was unaware of. Initially I was trying to set the chronology straight as to when the boing (what I regarded as a soley Haw phenomenon) started, but it became apparent that I was naive as to what was going on at other games. Therefor it is simple, the booing needs to stop, in order to clear the air and to identify, if possible, who is doing is for racist reasons. If anyone boos from hereon, then they are fairly and squarely opening themselves up to the allegation of racism. Mind you that won’t stop some of the bloody minded who will do it simply because they’ve been asked to stop; and that encapsulates the problem of throwing the racist allegation out there like a shotgun blast. It’s so wide that it’s bound to hit something, whether a legitimate target or not i.e. lets not make ourselves a target, unless you are a racist and then I hope you cop it fair between the eyes.

    Another thing that is popping up is the stereo typing of barackers by their club. To characterise any legion of barackers by the historical demographics of the suburb their club hails from is not only naive, but it’s so anachronistic that it’s literally early last century or even the one before that. The Hawthorn diaspora would be as diverse and probably as class defined as Collingwood’s, Carlton’s or St.Kilda’s. For the record, when Kennet became President I gave up my membership and only renewed it when he left the position. Not because I vote for those the right wing, conservative supporters of the capitalist mooching class – the ALP, but because he sold my primary school and turned it into a private school.

    I’m the evolutionary product of an Anglo-Irish-Catholic-Prody-working class/petty bourgeoise family and went through a State/Catholic/State education system and grew up in what was the outer East, but is now probably the Middle East (Ringwood – right next door to Cadbury’s) worked in the railways before I finally decided to land my malcontent anti-establishment arse in the Education Dept. I hug trees, can’t stand people who damn rivers, shoot ducks, hunt trout, brew beer, have a wine cellar and love poetry. But I hate Collingwood, Carlton, Essendon, Richmond, Sydney, Fremantle … St.Kilda and all they stand for.

    How the hell do you stereo type that?


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