Sport is like combat. It’s competitive, it’s adversarial, it is aggressive. But what sport should not be is a chance for our more base human emotions to come out, under the guise of competition.
In recent times, the Adam Goodes saga has dominated discussion in the general media and at the water-coolers of offices everywhere. For the record, Sydney Swans star player Goodes, who is of indigenous descent, continually gets heavily booed by the crowd whenever he touches the ball during AFL matches, leading him to take time off due to the stress of the situation.
Much of the booing of Goodes began when he celebrated a goal with an Aboriginal war dance during a game. Many blame this for his negative treatment, along with his calling out of a 13 year old girl who racially abused him from the crowd during another match, calling him an “ape”.
Let’s be honest, saying that Adam Goodes brought this treatment upon himself is like saying that it’s Adam Goodes fault that he was born an Aboriginal.
Celebrating a goal with a traditional Aboriginal war dance is a symbol of cultural pride. It was not a slight on the opponents, but Goodes expressing that he’s indigenous, he’s proud and he’s at the top of his game. In sport we have symbols of cultural pride everywhere, from the All Blacks performing the haka, to national anthems being played. The racial abuse he received from the young girl is indefensible, just as when media identity Eddie McGuire said on radio that Goodes would be a good promotional act for the musical King Kong.
The criticism of Goodes shows the ingrained racism that still exists in our society. As long as those of colour, or any minority for that matter, stay within the confines of what the general population are comfortable with, then there is no problem. Stand up for yourself and you’ve got a problem. Cue the barrage of criticism from middle aged (white) commentators like Alan Jones, Steve Price and others. It always strikes me as incredulous when white people lecture coloured people on what is and isn’t racist.
Goodes is a decorated individual, a former Australian of the Year and a former Brownlow medallist. His stance against racism should have him hailed as a hero, not a villain. It has been heartening to see many messages of support for Goodes from all races, be it on social media, or at AFL games. One Caucasian man, printed t shirts of support for Goodes out of his own pocket and distributed them to members of the crowd outside a Swans game, to show solidarity.
The Chinese Australian Forum is very proud to be a joint signatory on a public statement of support for Adam Goodes with over 150 organisations, organised by ANTar and the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. We have a responsibility to take a stand against the ill treatment of minorities. As the slogan says, “Racism, it stops with me.”