Everybody’s talking about it. According to http://www.aflcommunityclub.com.au/index.php?id=790, there are 71 listed indigenous players in the AFL. Only one gets booed. Why? Because the AFL footballing community is racist.
Or so we’re told.
Just have a read of some of the articles shown below and surely you’ll agree there’s no other explanation for the way Adam Goodes has been treated at various stadiums throughout the year.
In case you haven’t heard, Adam Goodes is the star forward playing for the Sydney Swans. He is in the twilight of a stellar career and is a former Australian of the Year. The saga we find ourselves in now all began when my beloved Collingwood Magpies played the Sydney Swans at the MCG in 2013. A little girl called out from afar and has regretted it ever since. We start with this article from Adrian Crawford, posted at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-25/goodes-gutted-but-places-no-blame/4712772 on 27th May 2013 and entitled;
Adam Goodes ‘gutted’ by racial slur but wants AFL fan educated
“A 13-year-old girl has apologised for calling Swans forward Adam Goodes an “ape”, an incident that the AFL star said rendered his side’s breakthrough win over the Magpies meaningless…Goodes, with security staff around him, had stood only metres away and pointed to her following a verbal clash with the fan. Victoria Police said on Saturday morning that a 13-year-old girl was interviewed over the incident and released last night pending further inquiry.”
The girl’s mother then came out and on radio the Monday after said her daughter was doing okay under the circumstances.
Eddie McGuire, the President of the Collingwood Football Club, only added to the tensions by suggesting Adam Goodes could be used to promote the upcoming musical King Kong. “It’s as simple as this. It was said, and I do not resile from that situation. I’ve put my foot in it,” he said.
And so the scene was set.
Move forward to August 2015 and Lateline reporter Brigid Anderson posted this online;
Adam Goodes debate: Prominent Aboriginal Australians reveal toll of racism
“Indigenous Australians have opened up about the harsh personal toll racism has taken on them, as debate rages over the booing of AFL star Adam Goodes.
The chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, Warren Mundine, revealed on The Drum that he is in therapy because of racism…
Goodes has taken indefinite leave from the Sydney Swans and it is rumoured he is considering his playing future after months of being relentlessly booed by crowds at matches.”
Footnote: Goodes was back playing one week later
Suzanne Carbonne posted this online five days later;
“The racial slur during the AFL’s Indigenous round spurred artist Ray Thomas to paint a piece called A Shameful History depicting the footballer pointing his finger at the Collingwood supporter with a dagger in his back and drops of blood.”
But the story had continued on throughout the season prior. This from James Dampney on 22nd May, 2014;
“Despite having to face another incident of racism, Adam Goodes says he is encouraged by the stand being taken by AFL fans to help stamp out the blight on the game.”
“Almost one year since the Sydney Swan was racially vilified by a young girl in a game against Collingwood, an Essendon fan had his membership revoked for making a racist comment towards Goodes last Friday night…”
Even The Straits Times weighed into the story, with Jonathan Pearlman saying Australia was suffering from “fresh concerns about racism” due to “taunts faced by Aussie Rules footballer” Adam Goodes.
A year later and it seemed Adam Goodes’ was anything but encouraged by AFL fans. In fact, in Indigenous Round, he alienated some by displaying hidden talents and performing what was widely referred to as a ‘war dance’ in front of Carlton supporters.
That night, another indigenous Sydney Swans star, Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin, kicked seven goals. But the headline was Goodes’. The headline May 30th on http://www.smh.com.au/afl/sydney-swans/sydney-swans-adam-goodes-celebrates-goal-with-indigenous-war-dance-ruffles-feathers-20150529-ghczbr.html read;
“Sydney Swans’ Adam Goodes celebrates goal with Indigenous war dance, ruffles feathers.”
Inside Story’s headline on 1st August this year read; “Football racism row splits opinion in Australia” was just one of many similar headlines to be found in newspapers and online, as well as television news broadcasts throughout the country at that time. Fairfax newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age encouraged their readers to support the #istandwithadam campaign.
Sport had been politicized beyond expectations.
However, out of all the articles on the topic, this one seems to resonate the most, at least with the writer. On 14th June this year in the Daily Telegraph, Neil Cordy wrote the following;
“Goodes was again the centre of attention…at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, with many fans booing him every time he touched the ball…He believes the more he talks about [the issue] the louder the boos become…’The booing has got a racial undertone,’ [Sydney CEO Andrew] Ireland told The Daily Telegraph.
‘The only difference [between Adam and other indigenous players] is that Adam is outspoken,’ Ireland said. What Adam does speaking out for his people, he clearly gets a reaction from these people [the fans].
“It started from the time he called out the [13 year-old girl’s] racial abuse at the MCG and has been added to since he became Australian of the year.”
Does that make Adam Goodes a dobber?
Alecia Simmonds, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Technology Sydney, wrote an article entitled ‘Why do we care more about racism when it happens on a footy field?’ on 3rd August this year. Her answer?
She said the footballer personifies the Australian character in that he is resilient, self-reliant, gets up again after having been felled, is “strong and anti-intellectual.”
“The footballer absolves the audience from feeling empathy because he never admits to his pain. He never shows his wounds. And if he does – if, like Adam Goodes, he cries out and says that he is hurting – then he’s told to ‘man up’. He will be infantilised: labeled a dobber and a sook. Like all Australian men, he’s expected to cop it on the chin. The footballer is meant to personify stoicism…”
So, what, or who, is a dobber?
According to https://www.wordnik.com/words/dobber, a dobber can be;
“a tool used to play bingo, a member of the working class in Scotland, one who dobs…an electrical device…”
But according to a more reliable source, the Cambridge Dictionaries Online, a dobber is;
“a person who secretly tells someone in authority that someone else has done something wrong.”
And so I went in search of information from the web to prove or disprove my hypothesis, that the Goodes saga is more about ‘pointing the finger’ than the colour of his skin. And this is what I found.
From 11th December 2006, this archived comment headlined ‘Dobbers – good on ‘em, the un-Australian gits.’
“Dobbing is bad, right? So we are all taught by tough parents, older siblings and the school bully when he finds out we turned him in. But in today’s Australia, populated – according to some – by dole bludgers, water wasters and (of course) terrorists, maybe it is the way forward.”
And this from Chris Dutton, Sports Reporter at The Canberra Times, 12th March 2014;
‘Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen says he’s no dobber.’
“ACT Brumbies captain Ben Mowen is angry his character has been tarnished by rumours, hitting back at any suggestion he “dobbed” on his Australian Wallabies Test teammates after a drinking session in Ireland last year.”
And lest we forget to mention Jullian Assange, voted the most un-Australian by Zoo Weekly. On AAP, 24th January, 2014;
‘Dobber’ Jullian Assange voted the most un-Australian by Zoo Weekly
“JULIAN Assange is nothing but a dobber in disguise, according to a men’s magazine which has named him Un-Australian of the Year.
Zoo Weekly for the past five years has been putting together a list of the year’s most disappointing Aussies ahead of Australia Day on January 26.
Mr Assange, founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, has taken the dubious title in 2011 for publicly releasing thousands of classified diplomatic cables – ‘dobbing.'”
And this from a Program Graduate of http://www.calorieking.com.au/ posted 7th March 2008;
“I am acting manager at the moment and I swear..if one more person comes and tells tales out of school I will scream.
I want to turn around and tell them..hey unless your work is perfect…and trust me..it ain’t. I don’t want to hear stories about someone else. What do they say about people in glass houses. Maybe I should just tell them..dobbers wear nappies. I feel like I’m in Kindergarten.”
Even Nigel McNay of The Border Mail weighed into the debate about dobbers with this contribution on 30th April this year;
‘Bali 9 | Cathy McGowan backs move to jail Aussie dobbers’
“…Indi MP Cathy McGowan…spoke out following yesterday’s early-morning execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on the island of Nusakambangan in Indonesia’s Central Java.
The executions have also led Ms McGowan to support the private member’s bill of the member for Fairfax Clive Palmer on such offences that will be presented when Parliament resumed.
The bill calls for public officials to be jailed for up to 15 years if they disclose information that causes an Australians to be at risk of the death penalty.”
Finally, for those management types who have employees raise issues with them from time to time, this entry may resonate;
From http://blogs.smh.com.au/radar/archives/2004/07/rats_in_the_ran.html comes this;
‘Rats in the ranks’
“Got a bone to pick with your colleagues? We don’t want to know about it. Andrew Taylor reports on dobbers in the workplace.
Do you have a colleague who gets on your goat? Do people leave dirty coffee cups in the office kitchen sink…Well, Fleur Radford and Elena Kazurova have some advice for you: keep it to yourself.
Radford, a human resources manager, says she feels like a kindergarten teacher when employees come to her to dob on workmates. “It gets a bit childish,” she says. “I always take notice in case it’s a matter affecting the company, but sometimes I just want to say, ‘Can’t you solve your own problems? ‘”
So, to use that oft quoted term, perhaps dobbing is ‘un-Australian.’ And perhaps Adam isn’t the only one to get booed, either.
Now he’s no longer captain of the Australian cricket team, we may wish to keep this article in mind next time we feel like criticising Michael Clarke for a poor performance. Isn’t this the epitome of a guy that can take it on the chin, so to speak? This from four years ago. Read on…
From http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-01-31/pup-doesnt-blame-brisbane-for-boos/1923320 came this entry;
“Even Michael Clarke could understand why a Gabba crowd booed the stand-in skipper before he helped steer Australia to a one-day series clinching victory over England on Sunday.
“The woefully out-of-nick Clarke was savagely booed when he took to the crease after a lean summer which included just 70 runs from four ODIs at 17.50 this series.
“But Clarke gradually won over the 30,651-strong Gabba crowd in his knock of 54…
“Obviously you would like people to be cheering but I can understand why a few of them are booing,” Clarke said…
“I haven’t performed as well as I would like so I don’t blame the public for being disappointed with my performances…”
And speaking of performances, good or bad, the following may provide us with a reasonable template with which to judge Adam Goodes’ performances over the course of the 2015 football season;
This from Andrew Wu at http://www.smh.com.au/afl/sydney-swans-champion-adam-goodes-down-but-fafrom out-20150624-ghwbro.html;
“[Adam Goodes’] average of 13.4 possessions across 2014-15 is his lowest since 2000, while his goal-kicking has dropped to pre-2008 when he evolved into a midfielder/forward. And his inability to lay enough tackles painted the picture of a player who was also struggling to defend.”
Doesn’t sound like he’s in career-best form now, does it?
So how can Adam cope with the booing of crowds and opposition fans when he’s away from home. If Michael Clarke gets booed we can only assume they’ll be a certain portion of the crowd that may feel the need for some reason to do the same to Goodes or another AFL footballer. Getting caught up in the emotion of the crowd doesn’t lend itself to serious thought before taking action.
Sports psychology may assist Goodes and other elite sportsmen who struggle to cope with crowd noise, with anti-sentiment.
As we conclude, let’s look at how NFL fans are said to affect games and consider the possibility that concentrating on the positive may well be harder but more productive than concentrating on the negative.
The Bleacher Report ran an article online entitled ‘How Do NFL Fans Really Affect Games?’ Written by Ty Schalter, on 12th December 2013, he has this to say;
“I spoke with Dr. Dan Weigand, editor of the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology.
‘One of the things that we try to do,’ Dr. Weigand said, ‘is limit the effect that crowd noise has if you’re the away team.’ One of the keys to doing that, Weigand said, is to practice in those distracting, disrupting conditions. In practice, teams can deploy loud sound and then develop coping strategies like hand signals…
“Beyond the preparation for dealing with the noise, though, is psychological preparation.
‘We try to prepare our team to embrace playing on the road,’ Dr. Weigand said, ‘to embrace the crowd noise, and use it as an advantage—to interpret it as they’re rooting for you, rather than against you.’ That kind of mental tenacity doesn’t come easily, of course, but rigorous practice in adverse conditions better prepares teams and athletes to handle adverse game situations.”
Food for thought, perhaps?
Postscript: Adam Goodes retired at the end of the 2015 football season to become Brand Ambassador for retailer David Jones.