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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    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)

    • May 28th 2013 @ 10:06am
      Arvind Kumar said | May 28th 2013 @ 10:06am | ! Report

      I am sorry for the girl and hopefully she learns from this experience and is provided with support but happy that Goodes made a stand! Many indigenous children and kids of other races suffer these taunts on a daily basis. No one provides these kids with support and they suffer for the rest of there lives. Therefore Goodes stand has further increased the profile on racism and that can only be a good thing. . I know the teachers at my daughters school brought this issue for discussion yesterday.

      People who do not suffer from the indignity of racial taunts d not have a clue on the damages done to the psyche of the children who face racism.

    • May 28th 2013 @ 10:08am
      Jack russell said | May 28th 2013 @ 10:08am | ! Report

      I would like to hear from an authoritative indigenous source the reason why ape is a racial slur against indigenous people. There seems to be a hell of a lot of people not aware it is offensive. Explaining why ape is offensive would go a long way to it not being used.

      • May 28th 2013 @ 11:02am
        JamesP said | May 28th 2013 @ 11:02am | ! Report

        “I would like to hear from an authoritative indigenous source the reason why ape is a racial slur against indigenous people.”

        How about from any sensible person with half a brain? If you cant figure out why calling a black person an ape, monkey, baboon etc, is derogatory, then I really pity you.

        • May 28th 2013 @ 11:13am
          andyincanberra said | May 28th 2013 @ 11:13am | ! Report

          Unless I’m misreading Jack’s comments, I don’t think that he’s saying that it is alright to use the term, rather, there needs to be an education for some people as to why it is racist. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of ‘how is ape a racist term?’ feedback on the comments sections of some articles. You are right, to people with half a brain it is a racist term. But to the Andrew Bolt’s of the world, along with his followers, ‘ape’ is not a race, ergo calling somebody an ape is not racist.
          It would be good to be able explain to people how Ape is racist and dehumanising, but for some people, I don’t think that the message could be dumbed down enough. How do you explain the subtleties of context to some people? Why was it OK to call Mick Martyn ‘Gorilla’, but it’s not OK to call an aboriginal player an ‘Ape’? The reason, ‘Gorilla’ referred to Martyn’s strength and physical presence. ‘Ape’, directed to an aboriginal is a way to say that they are sub-human. I think we’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

      • May 28th 2013 @ 11:52am
        Disco said | May 28th 2013 @ 11:52am | ! Report

        It’s called ignorance.

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

          Yes, it is ignorance, and it is very unfortunate that so many people seem not to understand such terms are racially abusive. On the other hand, it is also a sign of how far we have come. As an older bloke I can assure you that when I was very young it was quite common to hear racial abusive, particularly of indigenous Australians, but also of any other “non-white” people. And terms like monkey or ape were often bandied about – you could not help but be aware of this at that time. The fact that people have never heard this before is in fact wonderful!

    • May 28th 2013 @ 10:13am
      Winston said | May 28th 2013 @ 10:13am | ! Report

      On a different but related topic, how good was Adam Goodes? He was simply everywhere. He was kicking goals, he was taking defensive marks, he was getting it on the outside, he was getting it on the inside. He was back to his unstoppable best. It looks like his knee has recovered and that is quite a scary prospect. Put a tall defender on him and he’d run him to the ground; put a tagger on him and he’d drag him to full forward and outmark him. Brilliant! Considering Sam Reid is gone for at least a couple of weeks, maybe they’d have to put him as a permanent full forward, which is a bit of a shame.

    • May 28th 2013 @ 10:38am
      Arvind Kumar said | May 28th 2013 @ 10:38am | ! Report

      Jack Russell: please do a search on Google on this subject. Might be informative fr you as well!

    • May 28th 2013 @ 12:45pm
      Chairman Kaga said | May 28th 2013 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

      Goodes is probably the best footballer of any code in Australia at the moment.

      As for the Collingwood supporters, is anyone really surprised? They have been a bunch of ferals since I can remember. Even on the general supporter they have, they are constantly booing at opposition shots at goal, ANY decision that goes against them it goes on and on.

      The AFL would be better off without the Collingwood club altogether, they lower the tone.

      • May 28th 2013 @ 3:13pm
        Rob McLean said | May 28th 2013 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

        Oh, no, a football fan boos opposition shots at goal. Oh, no, a football fan boos a decision that goes against them. Hurtful.
        The AFL would be better off without Collingwood altogether? Yeah, right.
        Who do you support? What do they bring to the table?

        The only thing football would be better off with out of this, is a better understanding that racial intolerance will not be tolerated.
        The rest of your post, except for your bit about Goodes (he’s a gun), is partisan rubbish.

    • May 28th 2013 @ 2:10pm
      fishes said | May 28th 2013 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

      C’mon, she was 14 years old, not 6 years old. Not acceptable behaviour at any age. Eddie’s comments are just excuses.
      Good on Goodes all things considered he has handled it well.

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