The real reason Adam Goodes is booed

Let’s make one thing clear: booing is not good for the game, whether it’s being targeted at Adam Goodes or some other player in the spectators’ sights. Players have been booed since the first ball was bounced in 1897, and they will be booed long after Goodes’ career is over, despite the AFL’s indignation. It’s never been pretty.

Players leaving clubs, staging for free kicks, being too bloody good, belting the opposition – these are all common reasons behind why blokes like Judd, Selwood, Watson and other champions cop it regularly. But what of Goodes? Shrugging the mass booing off as just racist simplifies the problem, yet at the same time, disregarding the racial element completely would also be an oversight.

This whole saga is another familiar chapter in Indigenous relations marked by the same error over generations: a failure of both parties to recognise what’s happening on the other side.

It’s true that some spectators boo for frivolous reasons, and a player’s racial background has nothing to do with it. No doubt, there are boisterous loudmouths in the stands who see nothing of race in their dislike for Adam Goodes. He’s a dual Brownlow medallist with a high profile, and this can grind the gears of opposition fans. Just ask Chris Judd.

Yet since being awarded Australian of the Year in 2014, and in the wake of the incident with the 13 year old spectator, Goodes’ presence on the football field represented something more than a player in a Sydney jumper, but a figure that transcended sport and touched on more sensitive issues surrounding the nature of our society, both historically and culturally.

Goodes is no longer just a footballer, but a political symbol with the power to divide as much as unite, such is the nature of politics. Herein lies the issue. As a country, we struggle to deal with our past and a great many of us are ignorant of the present in regard to our first peoples. Adam Goodes, by his rhetoric and actions, represents a reminder of that struggle, and it makes some of us uncomfortable.

Politics lecturer and The Project host Waleed Aly made an interesting point on this issue when it first presented some months ago. With typical insight, Aly observed: “…it’s about the fact that Australia is generally a very tolerant society until its minorities demonstrate that they don’t know their place. And at that moment, the minute someone in a minority position acts as though they’re not a mere supplicant, then we lose our minds. And we say, ‘No, no, you’ve got to get back in your box here”.

Perhaps the problem is that Adam Goodes is not playing the celebratory role we expect him to play. Here’s an Aboriginal man who’s achieved great success on the sporting field, but instead of assuring us that it’s our great game uniting the country, Goodes is daring to venture beyond that veneer of nicety and challenge us to confront some deeper truths.

Instead of placating our sense of security and tolerance by humbly accepting his title of Australian of the Year, Goodes denied us the right to accept how far we’ve come in reconciliation by openly questioning our efforts to come to terms with the nation’s history and by vocally lamenting the current plight of Australia’s indigenous population.

By holding up a mirror to Australian society within the sporting heart of the nation, Goodes asked us to consider if we liked what we saw. The adversial reaction since demonstrates that many would rather take it out on the messenger.

From Goodes’ point of view, he’s utilising his position to ask more of what we can do as a society to support reconciliation and make it something more than a symbolic nod with carefully choreographed and rehearsed lines. For the football fans, they are voting with their feet in rejection of Goodes’ politicisation of our national game.

That explains the booing. It’s not so much a black and white question of whether or not people are being racist, but more a question of how we expect our public figures, especially minorities, to act in positions granting them influence. If someone dares to ask the hard questions, it’s easier to reject the questioner than to search within for answers.



10 Comments on The real reason Adam Goodes is booed

  1. I hoped for a sensible post but all we get here is another racist apologist. Your head is not on straight. Quoting that awful racist and fool Aly does not also serve you well. Goodes gets booed because he is a racist wanker; pure and simple. He was a great footballer once but has lost his everything due to his racist actions only. Note that no other indigenous foty player cops it even though they dish out a tough game – that’s because the others don’t sit in their box, it’s because they get out of it and play damn giod footy without being precious.

  2. If you legitimately think the average Joe AFL supporter gives two shits about Adam Goodes as a political figure when they boo him, you need to re-evalute how fair you read into things. They boo him because he’s a prominent veteran player on the team they’re versing and most of the time it’s directed at the entire team, not just him.

  3. The problem that Goodes has essentially insulted and attacked everyone who is an AFL fan while being white. Most people understandably don’t like being called racist especially if they have tried so damn hard to be inclusive and accepting of cultural diversity. Add to that the Australian admiration for humility and its no wonder that Goodes is being booed. He is simply too full of his own importance and too full of Hubris

  4. this man Goode obviously forgets or does not acknowledge his white heritage, I used to go to VFL years ago and the crowd booed then, he wasn’t around and there was indigenous players then, but no problems no player took it personal but he does and calls it racism, it takes a big person and a strong one to turn the other cheek, but he is an attention seeker and does this by instigating and taking part instead of being the bigger person and setting an example of strength and play the game which he obviously can,

  5. Although the article had some interesting points, you could hardly title it ‘The real reason Adam Goodes is booed.’ Everyone has different opinions on the matter. My opinion is that it is rude to pretend to kill people with a weapon. How would he feel if everyone stood up and pretended to shoot him with a gun?

  6. I’ve only lived in Australia for 10 years now but I think this applies….Hey Adam…grab a spoonful of concrete mate..

  7. Strip away the indigenous veneer, Goodes’ aggressive ‘war dance’ – directed at spectators – was an incitement to the crowd. Even by his own testimony, the dance was intended to be a big ‘up yours’. With the message received and the crowd duly incited, why is Goodes surprised people are responding in kind? His aggressive behaviour towards spectators would not be tolerated by any non-Aboriginal player. The AFL, by allowing – nay, praising – this blatant conduct by Goodes (and now Jetta) is saying indigenous players have free licence to incite spectators so long as they do it as ‘a proud black man’. Insane.

  8. Goode’s is a champion footballer, no question about that and he deserves the respect and kudos that go with all that, BUT, he has a serious chip on his shoulder about his aboriginality and wears his heritage on his sleeve as do a lot of successful indigenous sporting stars. He needs to decide whether he is Aboriginal or Australian when he runs onto the field. This booing business is just bullying not racism and should be toned down by the idiots in the crowd. Once Adam retires from the field he will simply fade into the ether and become yet another champion in the ‘Football Hall of Fame’ and the fans will forget all about him and move on. His appointment as the ‘Australian of the Year’ was premature, coming on the heels of the 13yr old girl ‘Ape’ incident and has incited the situation and the ‘War Dance’ antics can only continue to inflame an already bad situation. My advice is go quiet Adam and let it all blow over while you retire gracefully for a well earned rest!

  9. Adam I think your ex

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