Adam Goodes a class act on and off the field

Dan Lonergan Columnist

By Dan Lonergan, Dan Lonergan is a Roar Expert

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44 Have your say

    Another marvellous round of footy (unless you follow North, who in coach, Brad Scott’s words lost the un-loseable, or Melbourne, who were barely competitive) was marred with the off-field controversy of the racial slur against Adam Goodes who had produced his best form of the season in the Swans’ smashing of Collingwood.

    Goodes took offence, and rightly so, to being called an ape by a teenage girl in the crowd late in the match.

    With it being Indigenous Round and well into the 21st century, this remark really stuck in the champion’s craw, forcing him to leave the ground before the siren and go down to the change rooms.

    He missed celebrating Sydney’s best display of the season after the game with his teammates.

    The fact that the teenage girl didn’t know that calling Goodes an ape is racist proves how far we have to go in educating our children, especially those aged between 11 and 15, about how wrong it is to racially abuse someone anytime, anywhere.

    There was a talkback caller to Grandstand’s AFL coverage on the weekend who is a school teacher. He was very strong strident in his view that these sorts of education programs should have been implemented many years ago. I don’t think there would be too many who would argue against him.

    As Goodes said, gone are the days when the Indigenous community and players on a football field should have to tolerate racist rants.

    Now the girl’s comment was a long way from a racist rant, but one word that denigrates someone because of their race is one too many.

    It was great news that she had the courage to write him a letter and that Goodes accepted her apology straight away, but the fact that her mistake, as a member of a crowd supporting the highest profile team, has been and will continue to be highlighted is still a big punishment that may take her a while to overcome.

    She will need plenty of support and will get it if she wants it, particularly from the League. I hope she takes it.

    I don’t know where she had heard people being called an ape, but she said she didn’t know what it meant or what racism meant.

    She’s still young, but must be taught about it straight away, because committing the same mistake again in the same environment is completely unforgiveable.

    Goodes wants the girl to move on from this, comfortable that she will become a better person because of it. It proves what a special individual he is that in his press conference on the issue on Saturday he was genuinely worried about her after he got over the initial shock of the slur.

    Collingwood, as expected, were also reeling from this. President Eddie Maguire was absolutely shattered and got on the front foot knowing that Friday’s incident could permanently harm his club and what it stands for.

    Maguire has, in his own words over the years, worked hard to make the Magpies a powerful entity off the field since taking on the top job in 1999. He is very professional in all their business practices and can’t afford controversy to ruin or damage the brand of the AFL’s most popular club.

    He showed superb leadership, like Goodes, in seeking out the dual Brownlow Medalist in the Swans’ rooms immediately after the game.

    He now has to deal with another spectator spotted on a mobile phone picture yelling abuse from the stands at Lewis Jetta and Goodes getting free kicks because of the colour of their skin.

    What is wrong with these people?

    It appears that the days when barracking for your team in the crowd was about old-fashioned humourous banter between fans of the two teams doing battle are gone. The public have to be mindful of who is around them in the crowd at games, particularly children. A line has to be drawn as to what can or can’t be said.

    Veteran St Kilda small forward Stephen Milne said in the media on the weekend that he has copped some vicious abuse over the years, as has his family. I know he’s the Saint all opposition supporters like to give a hard time to, but they can’t be too personal.

    I hope that Friday’s incident is an isolated incident and we can continue marvel at the skill and talent of all players. We are so lucky to see them play and Adam Goodes, after 328 matches in 14 and a half seasons, is close to the top of the tree.

    It was a night that should be remembered for Goodes exhibiting his outstanding talent with a performance that will live in our minds forever, instead of being remembered as the night that some people embarrassed themselves.

    Dan Lonergan
    Dan Lonergan

    Dan Lonergan is one Australia's most respected and versatile commentators. In more than 16 years on ABC Grandstand he has covered AFL footy (including four Grand Finals), cricket, tennis, and three Olympic Games, including London 2012 where he commentated 16 sports.

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    The Crowd Says (44)

    • Roar Guru

      May 28th 2013 @ 8:22am
      Redb said | May 28th 2013 @ 8:22am | ! Report

      Good article.

      Goodes stood up to make a point rather than turn yet another blind eye to what indigenous players have been copping for years. Players must take a stand.

      It’s all about education, especially for the young girl and I’m afraid plenty of adults it seems.

    • May 28th 2013 @ 8:34am
      Brendan said | May 28th 2013 @ 8:34am | ! Report

      Goodes has accepted her apology which according to her grandmother was offered at the ground after the match and he asked that we let it be.

      • May 28th 2013 @ 8:50am
        andyincanberra said | May 28th 2013 @ 8:50am | ! Report

        SHE is the reason she got ejected.

        • May 28th 2013 @ 12:49pm
          Chairman Kaga said | May 28th 2013 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

          Exactly. No doubt there would be folks out there looking for a justification for what that Woolwich sociopath did also. Turn it up, in fact, those people that allow these excuses are a big reason why things like that occur.

    • May 28th 2013 @ 8:47am
      VOG said | May 28th 2013 @ 8:47am | ! Report

      Well I would say it would be good if Goodes went along to the school in some sort of gesture of solidarity with the girl. Otherwise the kids will be tempted to take one side or the other, either vilifying the girl or Goodes, which would merely be counterproductive. The Schoolmates are unlikely to shrug it off as a storm in a teacup or as water under the bridge. This may give Goodes his Winmar moment which he seems to be after and earn him admiration all around.

      • May 28th 2013 @ 10:46am
        BigAl said | May 28th 2013 @ 10:46am | ! Report

        This sounds like an excellent idea if handled properly. The media should certainly be made aware of it otherwise the event would lose some impact, but not allowed to sensationalise by showing anything on camera; ‘interviewing’ students etc. . . .

        Most likely all too difficult ??

      • May 28th 2013 @ 12:47pm
        Chairman Kaga said | May 28th 2013 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

        Why should he, a person needs to be accountable for their actions sooner or later. She learned a tough lesson that day. She will be a warning for others.

        • May 28th 2013 @ 1:56pm
          BigAl said | May 28th 2013 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

          because apart from a whole lot of other things it would promote the anti-racism campaign immensly

        • May 29th 2013 @ 4:16pm
          Pot Stirrer said | May 29th 2013 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

          Sacraficial Lamb to the slaughter i you will

        • May 29th 2013 @ 4:18pm
          Pot Stirrer said | May 29th 2013 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

          A sacraficial lamb to the slaughter if you will

    • May 28th 2013 @ 9:36am
      dmak said | May 28th 2013 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      I feel that that the AFL needs to put out a booklet listing words that supporters are banned from using as i like many people did not know Ape was a term to describe aboriginals.I have heard footballer described as apes before but never in regard to a players ethnic background but due to a players size and strength.

      It is not nice for anyone to call people names but the girl was not being racist.

      • May 28th 2013 @ 9:59am
        Nathan of Perth said | May 28th 2013 @ 9:59am | ! Report

        Mate, ape has been used as a dehumanising caricature for racial groups the establishment has disliked for the last couple *centuries*!

        You would have to be willfully, deliberately self-blinded not to realise that calling an aboriginal (or any other person of colour) an ape has huge connotations. For a lot of minorities around the world, these are the sort of words that got people killed, because the more people said it, the less people in power looked at black folks as other people.

        We’re not talking about labeling a class of player (the gorilla fullback) here, we’re talking about someone saying to a champion of our game, you’re an ape, not a human.

        • May 28th 2013 @ 11:51am
          Disco said | May 28th 2013 @ 11:51am | ! Report

          +1

        • May 28th 2013 @ 12:32pm
          Grover said | May 28th 2013 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

          More like the last couple of millennia..
          But +2

        • May 28th 2013 @ 2:57pm
          Pot Stirrer said | May 28th 2013 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

          Maybe she called him him an Ape becuase hes big and Hairy, Most kids are colour blind unless blinded by thier paents hatred
          which by the grand mother doesnt sound like the case. I dont know exactly what she said apart from the word Ape, but to autimatically link it to racism when itcomes to a 13 yr old kid then i think they need a new book in schools called political correctness for minors.

          • May 29th 2013 @ 9:55am
            Nathan of Perth said | May 29th 2013 @ 9:55am | ! Report

            It absolutely does not matter what the person intended it to mean – what matters is what was actually said and the effect.

            • May 29th 2013 @ 10:52am
              Matt from Singapore said | May 29th 2013 @ 10:52am | ! Report

              Totally agree Nathan. Sheedy’s comments offended, end of story, doesn’t matter what he intended.

        • May 29th 2013 @ 7:03am
          Steve said | May 29th 2013 @ 7:03am | ! Report

          It’s actually a bit of a tricky one, because ‘Ape’ in itself doesn’t have to be a racist term, and we get into a tricky conversation about how it’s fine to caricature George W Bush as an ape, but illegally offensive to do it with Obama. I do understand why people are urging caution on this.
          HOWEVER, it’s a bit of a moot point, because although I don’t think the girl is necessarily a racist as such, I’m pretty sure she shouted it to be hurtful, and the racial connotations were not irrelevant at all: case in point, with so many big burly dumb men on the pitch in front of her, and in the crowd behind her, why did she go for Goodes?

          • May 29th 2013 @ 9:59am
            Nathan of Perth said | May 29th 2013 @ 9:59am | ! Report

            No, ape is not in and of itself a racist term – it is an animal, after all. But if you are applying it to a black person then you can rest assured that 99% of the time it is racial vilification.

            And as you say, she wasn’t saying it because she thought Goodes was a pretty top bloke, but to get back at someone who was in the process of pummeling her team.

    • Roar Guru

      May 28th 2013 @ 9:53am
      langou said | May 28th 2013 @ 9:53am | ! Report

      If this sets the precedent then that is great but it must be applied equally to all kinds of personal abuse including the terrible things that get directed at the umpires each game. While we are at it, how about the TV stations stop zooming in on idiots who are yelling abuse and laughing about how much passion they are showing.

      • Roar Guru

        May 28th 2013 @ 2:42pm
        Simon said | May 28th 2013 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

        We’re not talking about personal abuse. We’re talking about racial vilification, mate.

        • May 28th 2013 @ 5:02pm
          Brad said | May 28th 2013 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

          Ultimately whats the difference?

          • May 28th 2013 @ 7:11pm
            BigAl said | May 28th 2013 @ 7:11pm | ! Report

            Very good question ! – Collingwood ruckman Darren Jolley had an article in The Age a few days ago expounding the value of sledging on the field.

            He recounted an episode when he was at the Swans where he gave ‘…a good sledging…’ to Josh Frazer? of Collingwood.

            When he himself moved to Collingwood, Jolley was ‘surprised’ to find that Fraser refused to speak to him ?????

          • Roar Guru

            May 29th 2013 @ 9:26am
            delbeato said | May 29th 2013 @ 9:26am | ! Report

            Umpires can go home and change out of their uniform, or quit if it becomes too much.

            The difference is – you can’t quit your skin colour.

        • May 28th 2013 @ 7:24pm
          Milz said | May 28th 2013 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

          So Simon I take it you find it alright for someone to abuse someone about height, weight, hair colour, sexual orientation – so long as it isn’t racist?

    • May 28th 2013 @ 10:02am
      Anna said | May 28th 2013 @ 10:02am | ! Report

      Where are the parents in all of this? Some of the commenters are right – a young girl should not be put through the rigours of police invstigation and media hounding as an adult would be. But it is at this point that the quality of parenting must be questioned. Whether or not she knew that “ape” was racist, she should have been taught manners and respect by her parents. Young children should not be shouting abuse of any kind at a footy game – and the humorous banter Lonergan refers to is indeed sadly lacking.

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