“WE LIKE Lionel Rose but we don’t like Adam Goodes.” I heard this comment yesterday on Radio National. Why would that be? Well, Lionel was a quiet man with a mighty punch and he was in our sporting thoughts before Nicky Winmar bared his chest to the crowd, before Michael Long gave voice to issues of his people and Cathy Freeman ran her victory lap at the Olympics with the indigenous flag. And before we started calling people out on racial taunts in sport.
"It would be a blight on this nation if this man was to retire because some mob ... have decided to follow blithely in the footprints of ignorance."
Nigel Scullion, Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs
My sister-in-law runs a training program on bullying, a topic not out of place here either. She does a rapid-fire questionnaire to draw out people’s attitudes, those attitudes that haven’t been laundered by consideration. She does it not to expose people but to give them an insight into their own views that are deeply held and unconscious. She then discusses ways to confront and change those views.
Apparently a child up to the age of seven simply absorbs ideas, information and attitudes. We are in that respect products of our environment. Having been exposed to some forms of racism in my youth, I know I have some dark doors in my subconscious that need to be dealt with from time to time. I’m not qualified to comment but I wonder if that’s what happened when Eddy Maguire made his terrible comment about Adam Goodes and King Kong, a comment clearly made without consideration.Well-known sportsmen Shane Warne and Jason Akermanis have told Goodes to “man up”. This would indeed be a commonly held view and reflects a view in the community that sledging or booing our opposition is OK – our cricket team is famous for it. I’m heartened by the way non-Aboriginal players and coaches, including Paul Roos and Luke Hodge, have thrown their support behind Goodes. I hope Jonathan Thurston scores this weekend to see this “terrible spear throwing action” spread to rugby.
But why is Goodes subjected to this booing? As I said in Thou shalt know thy place, it is indeed about knowing your place. Goodes has used his celebrity as a prominent sportsman and Australian of the Year to up the ante on racial issues, he has called people on racist taunts and the crowds don’t like it. Paul Roos rightly said that the booing exposes some issues in Australia we thought we had dealt with. Well, clearly we have not.
I was not at all surprised as “the middle-aged white men” – as Charlie Pickering calls them – Jones, Stefanovic, Kennett et al have railed against Goodes. Nigel Scullion, the federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, has called it well. "This is a difficult challenge but it would be a blight on this nation if this man was to retire because some mob ... have decided to follow blithely in the footprints of ignorance."
Paul Keating said you have to spend your political capital to make a difference. Goodes has clearly done that, to his cost. In my mind, it’s telling that Aboriginal men have taken the occasion to stand with him. I heard Stan Grant and the crew on the Marngrook Footy Show give passionate support to Goodes. The Aboriginal community see the booing as racist and as bullying, and that’s enough for me.
August 2, 2015
The booing of Adam Goodes is clearly by a minority of the crowd. The rest can only sit mute and uncomfortable. What’s needed is an opportunity for them to voice their support of Goodes. Listening to the Ashes cricket commentary, I was surprised to hear what sounded like loud booing of English batsman Joe Root whenever he hit a boundary, until I realised the crowd were singing “ROOOO-OOOO-OOT”. A sustained “GOOOO-OOOO-OODES” call would incorporate and drown out the boos.
Catherine Watson, Wonthaggi