The Roar
The Roar


Australia needs an Adam Goodes

Kieran Norwood new author
Roar Rookie
31st July, 2015

The Adam Goodes ‘debate’ makes me so, so angry and ashamed.

Usually I wouldn’t weigh in on issues like this because generally the overwhelming support will be in line with my own moral compass, and because I’ve found people are generally too closed minded to consider the views of others, or God forbid change theirs.

The ignorance and lack of empathy displayed around this issue has honestly shocked and disgusted me. Racism is so ingrained in this country that we are genuinely blind to the fact that we are racist.

The reason we can’t see it is because it is the easy option.

Telling the one man he is wrong is much easier than taking a look at ourselves. We’ve been doing it to the Aboriginal minority for hundreds of years, so why stop now?

I want to look at the main reasons highlighted as motives for the booing, including a few comments I’ve seen on social media that unfortunately express the views of more than one individual, based on the amount of likes they received.

The most irrelevant defence of the booing has been that other people have been, and are, booed. This is true, although I personally haven’t witnessed such an extensive case that singles out one individual.

Comment one
“Stop using football to promote your own agenda. If you want to get into politics be a politician”.

The only reason you don’t like Goodes’ ‘agenda’ is because it doesn’t align with yours, it’s because he is in a minority. This is along the same lines as the people that say, ‘Goodes makes everything about him’. No, he doesn’t.


Goodes is making things about his culture, and about the issues that are so deeply entrenched and prevalent in our society that we have become oblivious to them. You don’t want Adam Goodes to have a voice and use the influence he has gained from his success.

This brings me to one of the reasons for the booing- Goodes not deserving Australian of the Year.

Firstly, he didn’t pick himself as Australian of the Year. Yes, there were other nominees that were just as deserving. In fact, people are, hence why they’re nominated for it.

What would they have him do? Knock it back? Should he have gotten up there and said, “I don’t deserve Australian of the Year, just like my people didn’t deserve to be systematically erased from this country.”?

More importantly, let’s get to the core of why some don’t think he deserves Australian of the Year.

People don’t recognise Adam’s work with the Indigenous community, including establishing a foundation to empower individuals and promote education, employment and healthy living, as worthy of this honour.

Is this due to the fact some are too close minded to consider how much work needs to be done in this area and how hard this work is, especially when the majority of society is blind to it? In fact, their lack of support for Goodes’ achievements only proves how significant they are. It’s much easier to work for a cause well followed.

Comment two
“Stop being such a blouse. AFL is a man’s game”.


This was a comment from a white female who obviously agrees with the man who made the above comment, especially in the case of: ‘Shut up, Emma Watson. You’re an actress, stop promoting gender equality too.’

Hopefully I don’t have to point out the ignorance in this comment, but it does bring me to the ‘ape incident’, another justification made for the boos.

I am so sick of seeing this incident taken out of context and used to vilify Adam Goodes.

Adam Goodes didn’t blame the little girl, he rightly blamed society. He used the incident to highlight our inherent racism.

It is so sad that our society still doesn’t know how to react when an Indigenous person stands up for themselves. Goodes used this situation to promote change, and once again, the backlash he received only proves how much change is needed.

Comment three
“He bought [sic] it all on himself… Who’s racist here… People aren’t booing you because you are Aboriginal Adam Goodes, they are booing you because of your actions… You need to get over it. There are a lot of Aboriginals in the AFL, and they don’t single themselves out for booing, nor do they use their race as being the reason.. you Mr Goodes and you alone have shown total disregard and introduced racism into the AFL by your dancing and spear throwing antics.. That should be what is banned, sad that you feel the need to bring this into the game, and create what now you feel is racism against you… ‘YOU’ Mr Goodes are responsible for your own actions… Man up…”.

This person is right about one thing, they aren’t booing him because he is Aboriginal. Instead, they are booing him because he is Aboriginal and proud of it. The fact that he is Aboriginal and doesn’t just idly stand by and accept being a victim.

The other Aboriginals in the AFL don’t ‘single themselves out for booing’ because they don’t express their Aboriginality to the same degree, probably because they have suppressed it to avoid the treatment Adam Goodes is receiving.


The ‘actions’ and ‘dancing, spear throwing antics’ that apparently introduced racism into the AFL was a celebration of his culture. This war dance has been referenced as another one of the reasons for the booing, even though the booing began in the rounds before.

Many people took exception to the traditional war cry Goodes performed in the Indigenous round as a goal celebration. They hid their discomfort of the fact that Goodes was yet again not ashamed of his culture behind accusations that it was ‘violent’ and ‘intimidating’.

I would rather take on one man proudly performing his culture’s traditional war dance, than thousands of people booing and jeering me.

Finally, I want to entertain the idea that some of the booing is because Goodes is a dirty player on the AFL field.

This is the best case scenario, and as a Swans supporter, there is a high possibility that I would have a biased view of how Goodes conducts himself on the field. So, for the sake of this ‘debate’, I’m going to accept the idea that Goodes throws a few elbows and whinges to the umpires too much.

Is the satisfaction that you get from your one boo at an overzealous competitor really worth the pain he has been receiving from the thousands of them?

Given our track record over the past couple of hundred years, including the treatment of Goodes himself, is it not fair that it would be received as racism?

What this all boils down to is empathy.


The problem is I, as a white Australian, have no idea, what-so-ever, what it feels like to be the victim of racism, and I never will. It is that simple.

Therefore, I can’t effectively put myself mentally and emotionally in Adam Goodes’ shoes, because I have no grasp of the pain he feels. The least I can do is recognise this.

Recognise that I am completely incapable of knowing what it feels like to have the majority of society attempt to make you ashamed of your heritage, a heritage with a past filled with humiliation, suffering and racism.

What is really obvious from the fact that there is such a varied amount of reasons for people booing Goodes is that a lot of it is;

a) People ignorantly jumping on the band wagon because, well, mob mentality and,

b) A mask for racism, intentional or unintentional. The only potential positive I can find in the realisations I’ve come to while writing this, is that our anger is an expression of our own deep seeded shame and guilt for the treatment of Aboriginals.

We need to start manifesting this into empathy and support, instead of anger.

Do you know the one thing the ‘Adam Goodes debate’ has really made clear? How much Australia needs an Adam Goodes.


How much Australia needs a strong, prominent Aboriginal figure, that isn’t afraid to stand up for his rights, culture and beliefs, even in the face of proven, overwhelming ignorance.