Now I will always love my Tigers above all other teams, but our local AFL team is the Sydney Swans and I’ll freely admit that I’ve always had a soft spot for the Red and White.
I watch more of their games live than any other team, so I suppose it’s hard not to like them just a bit and given 4yo has latched onto the Swans as his favourite team, I reckon that soft spot is there to stay. I never enforced any rule like Dad’s “everyone has a different team” and yet I ended up with a Tiger (7yo), a Giant (6yo), a Swan (4yo) and Co-Consul continues to deny that she’s a Bomber (like a lot of Bomber fans at the moment I suppose). I love the diversity of our footy family because it means I get to watch more football (reckon Dad was onto something).
Because I’ve been able to watch the Swans since I moved to Sydney, I watched as their 2005 Premiership unfolded, their 2006 campaign end in defeat and their 2012 Flag cement their spot as one of the power teams of the early new millennium. I’ve watched Adam Goodes develop from a gifted young rookie, to a Rising Star, to a gifted, yet injury-prone ruckman, get moved back out to the midfield to become a superstar, dual-Brownlow Medallist, dual-Premiership player and co-Captain, four-time All Australian, three-time Bob Skilton Medallist and Australian of the Year.
I respect the footy ability of every superstar the game has produced, but Adam Goodes is one of the few I feel is as deserving of respect for their work off the field as they are for their work on it.
I’ve never met the man personally, but from what I’ve seen on TV, live in games, live on the sidelines and heard about him – he’s a driven, passionate man with a quiet, considered demeanour. He seems a man who wants to set an example for young people of all backgrounds, but particularly for young Indigenous people whom he feels the deepest kinship. He is a man who can help make this country a better place to live and wants to make that difference with all his heart.
I have the utmost respect for Adam Goodes, for what he has done for the game of Australian football in New South Wales, for what he has done for young people and what he has done for the profile and respect Australians pay to Indigenous people. I respect him even more for the way in which he has gone about it – I have never heard Adam Goodes speak disrespectfully about anyone or anything, he has always maintained not only his calm, considered demeanour throughout his career, but has also dealt with the spotlight and the media with a class you don’t often see. Goodes has worked through the Sydney Swans in schools, raising money for charity, publicly spoken out against incidents of racism and with his 2005 Premiership teammate Michael O’Loughlin, has set up the Go Foundation which helps Indigenous kids complete their school educations and hopefully encourage them to bigger and brighter things than if they had dropped out. In our most recent generations of school-goers, 68% of Indigenous kids dropped out of school before they finished Year 12 compared to only 28% of non-Indigenous kids. Despite what the far-right paper the Daily Telegraph may have said (I won’t link to their “article”, but you can look it up) – this man deserved every bit of his Australian of the Year honours and then some.
It saddened me to read this morning that Adam Goodes was considering hanging up the boots, not because his body could no longer take the rigours of football as many aging stars find, but because opposition crowds continue to boo him when he gets the football. It saddened me not because I think it’s true, I would think a competitive sports person like Adam Goodes would eat that sort of opposition heat and fire back with superb football (as he did) and perhaps the odd war dance (see – class), but rather it saddened me because people might actually believe that it’s true. That a man of this stature could be brought low by a bunch of half-pissed idiots in the opposition crowd.
Now for all that’s been written about the racist overtones of the booing of Adam Goodes, I don’t believe the phenomenon began as a racist thing. I personally think it began as a reaction to a couple of diving incidents. These incidents Goodes has said himself he’s not proud of, but many, many superstars have been caught diving – recent 400-game player Brent Harvey is a perfect example. Smart players, you see, will do almost anything to win and Boomer and Adam Goodes I think are cut from the same competitive cloth. Star players also seem to get an easier ride from umpires because they are star players and both Goodes and Harvey have certainly had their share of star treatment on-field. Some years ago, after a couple of questionable on-field incidents, opposition crowds started to boo Boomer Harvey, but the Kangaroos faithful quickly picked it up and decided to own it with the “BOOOOOOOOOOOMER!” cry every time he touched the ball. Now it’s a Kangaroos war cry.
The fact that the booing of Goodes has continued, I think indicates that it has now become about race, as the sadly inevitable racist elements of every crowd latch onto the booing and join in – thinking that they can suddenly get away with expressing the racism which our increasingly educated society has forced them to hide away in recent years.
Well I’m here to say that they can’t. We’re not going to accept people booing this man for any reason – particularly for the absurd reason of his cultural background!
What I’d like to see is one of two things: either everyone who attends the next Swans match to call for any booers to shut up or for Sydney Swans fans to take a leaf out of the Kangaroos book and own it. Make it a war cry of your own “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODES!” You’re going to need to publicise the ownership so that everybody knows it’s you and not these other wankers, but why not? Own it! It worked for Boomer.
But whichever way, I’d like everyone with half a brain cell to stand up for one of the greatest players to ever play the game – one of only fourteen players to ever win two Brownlow Medals – stand up for a champion of not only the Sydney Swans but of the sport of Australian Football, stand up and show respect to an Australian who has done many things to make this country better, stand up for a man who, unlike many of these booing idiots who claim to be proud of an Australia they’ve had nothing to do with improving, should be able to walk away from the game proud of his achievements and the respect he has earned from them.
Goodes could well have been planning to hang up his boots at season’s end anyway, but this blight on the game should not be the closing chapter of Adam Goodes’ playing career. He should be respected as one of the great players ending his career in style as part of the Sydney Swans team which made their 6th successive Finals appearance and their 12th in 13 years.