What will Adam Goodes’ legacy be ten years from now?
A champion footballer who dominated the AFL? A player who staged for free kicks? A proud Aboriginal man who championed First Nations rights in this country?
Personally, I hope it’s plenty of the first and last options, and none of the second. Regardless of how the long-retired Swan is remembered going forward, though, it will be impossible to separate his legacy from the boos which were the soundtrack to his last three seasons in the league.
For that reason alone, The Final Quarter is essential viewing for all footy fans. For the potential it has to start an informed discussion on the racism which exists in this country, it is essential viewing for all Australians.
It does not – as a certain conservative columnist on Twitter unsurprisingly claimed – “rewrite history”. Composed entirely of archival footage, it’s little more than a catalogue of the media coverage and reaction during the last three years of Goodes’ career.
There’s no narration, no after-the-fact interviews. It’s not meant to be entertaining, and it’s uncomfortable viewing – for the right reasons.
As such, it is presented in such a way that it might just kickstart a conversation about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are treated in Australia.
Truth be told, I feel singularly unqualified to write in much – or any – depth on this subject. I’ve never been subjected to racism. Sure, I was deeply saddened when Goodes was booed out of the game, firmly of the opinion that it was racist, but how could I possibly know, how could I possibly understand, how it impacts someone who has been on the receiving end?
But I also firmly believe that sport and societal issues should not – and cannot, for that matter – be separated into their own different corners, that it’s some kind of heresy to mix the two into the same conversation. After all, history is populated with notable moments when the two have intertwined.
So, in the interests of starting that discussion using the massive reach that sport has in this country, please take the 75 minutes out of your day to watch the documentary, if you haven’t already.
It might change your opinion, it might do nothing to alter it. But I have no doubt that Australia’s indigenous game, and the country as a whole, would be better for it if everyone sat down with an open mind to watch the film, and to reflect on how and why one of the finest footballers to grace the AFL, arguably the greatest ever Indigenous player, walked away from the game.