The Lynching of Adam Goodes

I had a chance encounter with Adam Goodes after the early season loss to North Melbourne at the SCG in 2014. I was chatting to a friend I had attended the game with in the carpark behind the Brewongle Stand when suddenly conversation stopped and I’m asked “Is that Adam Goodes walking towards us?”

I turned around and sure enough, the reigning Australian of the Year was approaching. My friend just blurts out, much like an excited teenager “Can I get a photo?”

With a generous smile, he responds with “Please.”

My initial reaction was to have a giggle at my friend’s plight as she realised the way in which she made the request was without manners. She re-asked the question with a please at the end, and he obliged us with a photo opportunity.

As we shook hands I asked him if the team was getting hammered in the rooms from Longmire after a pretty poor showing. He smiled and said it was going to be a tough week at training this week for quite a few of the boys. We congratulated him on his Australian of the Year award, and observed he was driving a hybrid powered car, which was later put up as a sponsor’s promotional prize later in the season.

The encounter lasted all of a minute, but by the end of it two Swans fans finally had something to smile about after a pretty ordinary game in the previous hours.

As an in-joke between us, Adam has since been only referred to as “Mr Please.” We both recognised, almost immediately, that he was right. He wasn’t going to refuse the request for a photo with a fan, but a bit of manners when making that request would be appreciated.

At no stage did it occur to me that I COULD have responded by saying “Hey, don’t make my friend feel bad.” To me, that is a totally wrong response. Adam was right. Pure and simple, no further correspondence need be entered into. He was right.

A Rising Star in his debut year 1999, 2 Brownlow’s, 2 Premierships, 4 All Australians, Indigenous Team of the Century and more than 350 games in the AFL – the bloke is a legend and was treated as such by all fans of the game for sixteen years.

He didn’t have a reputation as a “diver” to get cheap free kicks. He didn’t have a reputation as a “dirty” player who annoyed his opponents – he’s no Liberatore or Brereton or Michael Ennis and Justin Hodges in Rugby League or Stuart Broad.

But now in his seventeenth year in the game, he is constantly being jeered by opposing fans. Why? Suddenly I’m being told he is a diver, he is an annoying player, and opposing fans have never respected him. Something just isn’t adding up all of a sudden.

I hear people referencing the Collingwood game at the MCG last year. Well, guess what? He was right. Adam Goodes was right to stop when he heard a racial taunt directed at him. No ifs, ands, or buts. He was right. It didn’t matter if the perpetrator was 13 or 31, male or female. He was right. As Will McEvoy on The Newsroom would say, PERIOD.

As the Australian of the Year, he was compelled to discuss the issues he is passionate about. Aboriginal people in Australia have for generations suffered from institutionalised disadvantage and destruction of culture. Again, he is right, period.

Why is this too hard for people to accept? Why is there an insistence Adam Goodes is wrong?

If you’re booing Adam Goodes on the grounds you disagree with his opinion on Indigenous disadvantage, then you are denying there is Indigenous disadvantage. You, are wrong.

If you’re booing him on the grounds he’s a dirty player, the 162 career Brownlow votes and the two medals hanging in his pool-room indicates that once again, you, are wrong.

Are you booing him because he picked on a thirteen year old girl? Are you really of the opinion a 13 year old girl is free to get away with racially vilifying a footballer because she happens to be a 13 year old girl? Again, you, are wrong.

The incidence of the booing has been getting worse all season and is now at crisis point. Why is this so hard for people to understand?

I understand fans have booed opposition players since the beginning of competitive sport, but that is because the target displays poor sportsmanship. I will always jeer Ennis, Hodges and Stuart Broad. But it’s not because I hate any of their cultural backgrounds.

There is only one word I can find to describe what is happening to Adam Goodes in 2015 – wrong.

It is wrong a future Hall Of Fame member is being taunted like this. It is wrong a proud indigenous man is being vilified for giving a voice to the thousands of indigenous people who don’t believe they have a voice. It is wrong how a champion player in one of the toughest contact sports in the world is being accused of being soft, a wimp, and a cry baby.

What we are witnessing is psychological lynching by cowards hiding behind a mob mentality. It is wrong.

Where is the community leadership? The fans have so far failed to respect the advice given to them from their own players and coaches.

The silence from our nation’s Minister for Indigenous Affairs is deafening.

About Wayne Ball

Tragic fan of the Australian and NSW cricket teams (for those of you outside NSW, there is a difference, despite what David Hookes said). Not a fan of T20. Penrith Panthers are the only club of decency and all which is good in Rugby League, the Waratah's were once the national team of Rugby Union, the first non Victorian team in the VFL/AFL is the Sydney Swans, and they all enjoy my passionate support. Sings for Wanderers. Internationally, I have been to see the Oakland Athletics and Green Bay Packers play. One day, I'll see Norwich City play for the FA Cup at Wembley.

Comments

  1. Dave Nadel says:

    An excellent comment Wayne. You actually address the issues rather than making stupid comments or raising irrelevant excuses as some commentators have done.

  2. Rick Kane says:

    The silence from the Prime Minister is disturbing. How quickly and consistently he defended the Speaker of the House but can’t find a comment on a matter that has caught the interest of Australia equally, if not more. Might it be that one is on his team, the other, not so much? (Abbott finally spoke up this morning – that’s leadership right there (not).)

    Thanks Wayne, like others you have reinforced that the true fulcrum of this issue (and debate) is a question that infuriates like nothing I’ve seen in recent times. The question being – is racism still a part of our identity? The extent that some have gone to to deny that racism is alive and festering (or at least reconciliation with our past still haunts our dreams of who we really are) is staggering.

    Just for the record, here’s what Goodes (not Breteton or Jones or anonymous on Facebook) said following the disgusting taunt thrown at him by the 13 year old in 2013, as reported on Foxsports:

    Goodes revealed the girl had called him to apologise. He tweeted: “Just received a phone call from a young girl apologizing for her actions. Lets support her please #racismitstopswithme #IndigenousRound.”

    Earlier, Goodes refused to blame the girl for her actions, insisting she needed support and education to realise her behaviour wasn’t appropriate.

    “She’s 13, she’s still so innocent. I don’t put blame on her,” Goodes said.

    “It’s what she hears and what environment she has grown up in. I was asked if I wanted to press charges, but that’s not what I want.

    “She has no idea how hurtful her comments are. It cut me deep. I couldn’t even stay on the ground to celebrate the victory.

    “The person that needs the most support is the little girl. If she wants to call me and apologise, I’ll take that call and explain how much it hurt me.”””

    Tell me again why people think he’s a flog?

  3. Superbly illustrated Rick K … I’m proud to know you mate.

  4. Re your point Rick, methinks the Prime Minister might be more a tune to the thoughts of his Attorney General Mr Brandis, who has said he supported the rights of people to be bigots. This crowd behaviour seems to comply with what Mr Brandis, so we shouldn’t be surprised !

    Glen!

  5. Bec Blossomvictory says:

    Agree with Mr W. Ball’s opinion from head to toes, the first touching & indetph analysis of the event ever known so far. Yes, AFL games are just another business, fans / audiences are fee-paying customers, they have the rights to do what is legit. *Fair enough, if the boos are for backing your own team up, but when they have been directed to one single individual for this long – it becomes personal attack / abuse / bullying, simple, which AFL great is going to put up with that?? … **One theme here — Bullying should Not be tolerated in AFL games, no matter who is the target.**

  6. Mark Giuliano says:

    Rick

    Spot on……… the lack of acknowledgement of Adam’s dealing with that incident in the subsequent days that has been driving me mad.

    It merely confirms the willingness of many to express very strong, venomous feelings while being ignorant of the facts that supposedly support their stance.

    I too am at an absolute loss to identify what it is that Adam has done to warrant this treatment.

    The booing is now probably somewhat incidental………. it is the hurtful bile being spewed between games at every opportunity that sickens me and is no doubt extremely distressing to Adam and those close to him.

    Rick – you make me feel honoured to stand by you.

  7. Mark Giuliano says:

    Wayne

    I have had a couple of similarly positive encounters with Adam going out of his way to make my young kids feel pretty special.

    Similar to you, he was on his way to his car after a game at the SCG (we visited Sydney from Melbourne for the weekend to see the game), and a mere cal of “G’day Goodsey” from us resulted in him changing the line of his walk to cone over and say “G’Day kids”. But it was the way that he squatted down to be at their eye level and engage directly with each one of them individually was just fantastic.

    I can’t imagine that I (nor many others) would be so giving of their time to absolute strangers, in the dark with not many people around.

    I remain unaware of anything at all that makes him anything less than an outstanding human being.

  8. Keiran Croker says:

    Thanks for a clear and insightful commentary Wayne, and for your comments Rick and others. Lets keep logically and clearly challenging others on their views on this matter. Well done. I support Adam Goodes.

  9. Michael Viljoen says:

    Minor quibble: Period is an Americanism. It grates on my ears worse than Brendan McCullum’s accent. In Australia, women of child bearing age have periods, sentences have full stops.

    On Goodes you are 100% correct. But you ask, where is the community leadership? It appears to me that leadership is coming from the AFL. In recent times the AFL have realised that they have a responsibility to take community leadership on such things as racial discrimination and other issues. The players, the coaches and the 18 clubs (Goodes’ true peers, those knowing him best) have loudly declared themselves 100% behind Goodes.

  10. Wayne Ball says:

    Michael, I know it’s an Americanism, and I referenced my use of it in the article. I used it for dramatic effect, so I’m pleased it’s had that effect upon you..

  11. Mulcaster says:

    Great article Wayne, I hope Adam Goodes takes comfort from articles such as yours.

Leave a Comment

*