The Roar
The Roar


The real reasons why footy fans are abusing Adam Goodes

Roar Guru
23rd May, 2014
10002 Reads

A dominant topic of discussion this football season has concerned the look of the game on television and at stadiums across Australia.

We are yearning for the golden age of the 1980s and 1990s.

The days where we watched Tony Lockett and Jason Dunstall shoot it out, used milk crates for viewing at Princes Park and watched with bated breath as the dulcet tones Peter Landy said ‘if you don’t want to know the score from the MCG, look away now’, hoping our tips were safe.

Yet as Etihad Stadium showed last Friday night, parts our football culture still emanate from that era.

The racial taunting and continued booing of Adam Goodes by Essendon supporters was a disgrace.

Essendon fans behaved like pigs all night and their hypocrisy was galling considering their shrieks of horror when Jobe Watson was taunted at the height of the doping saga.

But Bombers fans aren’t the only ones targeting Adam Goodes. He has been the subject of abuse and criticism from social media, people at games, even the poisoned pens of Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine.

Common reasons are that Goodes is a racist for advocating Indigenous advancement, he was an unworthy of Australian of the Year compared to Shane Crawford and he is a bully for pointing out a 13 year-old-girl in the crowd who racially abused him.


All of these arguments lack any form of reasoning.

For starters, I’ve never heard of Goodes saying he hates white people or reports of him racially vilifying a white person.

Shane Crawford probably did deserve AOTY, but Goodes’ work with Indigenous kids is well respected and equally deserving of recognition. People who float that ‘Crawf’ argument probably forget we gave the same award to a white Pat Rafter in 2001, who spent plenty of time as a tax exile in Bermuda.

But considering the ferociousness of the anti-Goodes hatred despite a lack of empirical evidence, why do footy fans hate Adam Goodes?

I personally think it’s a combination of two things – our perception of sport stars and the proactive promotion of his heritage. Society’s general perception of footballers is not of a high standard.

We as supporters have always seen footballers as sub-intelligent to the rest of us ‘smart’ supporters. Our expectations are that footballers train weekdays, play on weekends, celebrate ridiculously and then get into trouble for doing dumb things.

Goodes doesn’t fit that profile – he has a great brain, a keen eye and mouth for politics and a selfless willingness to help others. While everyone else is allowed to spout abuse and disseminate ideas on how society should function, the idea that a footballer has any intelligent opinions about society just does not compute with our sporting mentality.


For that, Goodes has been subjected to cruel taunts simply because we, as ‘fans’, can’t believe that a footy star could have such thought-out political views.

In regards to his heritage, Adam Goodes is arguably the most visible campaigner for Indigenous culture and recognition of the Stolen Generation.

Despite years of reconciliation efforts and the emergence of Indigenous talent, there is still a denial by sections of Australia about our past treatment of Indigenous Australians. Some people think that letting Indigenous Australians play Aussie Rules and accepting their talent is enough to ‘mend fences’.

So when an Indigenous person like Goodes speaks up for his culture and addresses past wrongs, people feel threatened. It challenges their ideals and beliefs about how Indigenous Australians have been treated and how they should be treated into the future.

To quote Voltaire – and apparently Andrew Bolt – ‘I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it’.

I don’t agree with every one of Adam Goodes’ statements, but in a civilised world there is no way he deserves the foamed-mouth reaction he is currently getting.

The great paradox is that the fans who taunt Goodes are the same who bemoan the lack of role models in football. In their search, they should look no further than the clean-skin, intelligent number 37 from the Sydney Swans.