Adam Goodes is a champion footballer and one of the very best of his generation. By all accounts, he’s also an absolute gentlemen who gives a lot back to the community.
He has now retired after Sydney bowed out to North Melbourne in the AFL semi-finals on Saturday night.
It’s a real pity that the end of his career was blighted by the booing fiasco.
For me, what happened to Goodes was inevitably what happens when you mix politics and footy. The whole point of going to the footy is to be entertained and take a breather from the real world, which includes all things political. When Goodes had a go at that 13 year old girl who so obviously had little or no idea about the gravity of her remarks, things quickly escalated. By the time he did that spear dance at some Carlton fans (after he had been incessantly booed for a long time) the situation became inflamed beyond control.
A lot of people also appeared to take exception to his Australian of the Year acceptance speech in January 2014. If they did, then they were being unfair because when you read what he said, it wasn’t really out of order.
However, of the people who booed Goodes, very few did so because of his Aboriginality. They did so because Goodes mixed his footy with his political views and because a 13 year old girl was made a scapegoat. If Goodes had pointed his finger at a middle aged man saying the same thing, it may have all ended differently. After the whole fiasco hit peak stupidity earlier this year and the AFL completely lost control, the people who continued to boo him didn’t do so because they were racist – they did so because they were told not to. Prohibitions of this nature never work.
I have no doubt that a very small number of the people booing were flat out racists. But that’s about as helpful as saying that some people in the community commit crimes.
Regardless, I hope this issue can now finally be put to rest and that Goodes can get on with his life. I may not agree with Goodes’ political views, but he has every right to express them freely and live a happy life. I think everybody should honour that going forward.
(Picture from the Herald Sun).