racism and sportsball: on the excellent adam goodes

HELLO FRIENDS. Tomorrow Victoria gets a public holiday for AFL Grand Final Eve, in a move that I cannot even. As if it’s not bad enough that we get a public holiday for a horse race, we now have to have one for sportsball.

[Liz feels compelled to note here that Stephanie never works on Fridays anyway, and a bonus public holiday in the long, break-free wasteland between the Queen’s Birthday and Cup Day is a gift to us five-day-a-week peons.]

Anyway, Stephanie is a lifelong Sydney Swans supporter, and never has she been more passionate than this year, when deadset legend Adam Goodes has been subject to the gross racism that infests our sport. So in celebration of the end of the season, have some links and commentary and feels.

REMINDER: In May, during the INDIGENOUS round, INDIGENOUS AFL player Adam Goodes did a celebratory INDIGENOUS dance thing, and the Carlton crowd booed him and felt “threatened” by his dancing. Wow. What a surprise. White Australians feel threatened by Indigenous people displaying their culture. Wow.

Here is my previous post of links on the matter, from June.

FOUR MONTHS LATER and we’re still going, and a bloody former Australian of the Year won’t be doing the traditional retiring players lap of honour at the Grand Final for fear of racism and fucking bullshit.

What a surprise, this game is a pus hole of disgustingness.

Stan Grant has this great article you should all read, Adam Goodes showed us the festering sores of Australia’s history can rip open at any moment. It’s so amazing, people were texting me to ask if I’d read it because it was so amazing.

Adam told me how that cut him. But it made him grow up. He decided to front the coaches and ask what he needed to do. They told him he was inconsistent; they wanted to hear his voice – hear him challenge other players and himself.

He didn’t need to be told twice. The next year he was voted the best player in the AFL: a prestigious Brownlow medallist. He made the leadership group and has remained there ever since.

But off the field his journey of identity continued. The questions of childhood remained. Adam began a diploma of Aboriginal studies, deepening his knowledge of history and politics.

Again, I know this path. I came to university in Sydney at an age similar to when Adam came to the Swans. I filled my mind with a new history, books with titles like Outcasts in White Australia. I filled my vocabulary with new words: ethnocentrism, social Darwinism, genocide.

It made me angry. It made me question how this country could do this to my people. It answered the question of my childhood: what put us here?

And Adam told me he grew angry too.

Australia has fucked over its Indigenous peoples, even as its Indigenous peoples have stepped up, overcome. In the AFL, the great players have been Indigenous, with heavy, fantastic influences. (There’s a freeway named after Polly Farmer in WA. In an industrial, racist city like Perth, that’s a high honour)

Adam Goodes was an amazing player, and I’m so glad he was with Sydney. Other teams might not have stepped up when an Indigenous player was racially vilified, was racially abused. But what a disgusting thing, and a disgusting game, that I’m somehow not surprised it’s come to this.

A couple of other links:

Booing the messenger: Goodes is gone, but the confronting truth remains

But the subtext and reality would be that Australians can’t handle Goodes or his message because that message is too real for many of us. As a consequence we would prefer to simply look away or tell the TV image of Goodes to “piss off”, as the stories we know align more with Bradman, Bondi and Beersheba.

‘We don’t hear just a boo’: Stan Grant on Goodes

“We don’t hear just a boo, we hear – as I wrote in the piece – the howls of humiliation that we often grew up with as Indigenous people,” he said on Friday night.

“The howls that echo across history of two centuries of dispossession and injustice and suffering.”

Australia has its own ‘Haka’ 

Sometimes a Yolŋu person will play just the rhythm and the words in their heads to encourage themselves in times of self-doubt or extreme trial.  At other times Yolŋu act out a part of the steps/dance and sing the words to give courage to themselves and their colleagues as they are about to take on a public challenge or defend their homes or themselves. Similar to “giving strength to the arm” or, in the way the New Zealand Haka is performed before a rugby game, to show the other side that, “We/I cannot be beaten”. It’s also used to celebrate a victory, in the same way as used by Adam Goodes.

I guess we can end with some levity, because this is probably the only time Liz will let me write exclusively about AFL: AFL CLUB SONGS RANKED BY AMBITION AND BOASTFULNESS.

Showing an absolute disregard for the profession of bookmaking, this song claims that the Swans will win no matter the odds. Furthermore, they claim to possess the power to summon thunder from the skies, an ability usually reserved for supreme gods in polytheistic religions.

[Liz wishes to add that she has grown quite fond of the Western Bulldogs since she moved to Footscray, especially the way their fans become confused and nervous when they win something.  Also, she caught five minutes of a game on TV once, and there was a ball, and it was being footed, and there was a guy in a Carlton jersey who wore bright green shoes, but apparently that’s not part of the game, they just happened to be the shoes he was wearing.  Next year, she will follow women’s AFL and also the Bulldogs and maybe learn how the game is played.

I further add that The Saturday Paper (legit, when No Award finally gets a Patreon, I kind of want one support level to be “Saturday Paper digital subscription” just to complete our descent into left wing cliche) has a really excellent profile of Goodes: Adam Goodes’ bipartisan career ends but legacy will live on.]