By Mike welsh
The boo-ing saga swirling around Sydney Swans superstar Adam Goodes has the potential of spinning totally out of control. Spinning is what the AFLdoes with ease. It is as good a PR “spinner” of issues as there is anywhere in the elite sporting map.
Losing control, however, is something the AFL is not accustomed to.
But, as with many sensitive contemporary social issues, The code needs to
dexterously negotiate around this minefield which is growing larger by the
week. The main danger comes from within, The AFL cannot be perceived by
the fans to be tip toeing around the Goodes issue.
Sporting fans are by their very nature loud and vocal. They WILL shout,
they WILL scream, they WILL rant, and they WILL rave. They will laugh and
cry and they WILL boo too. The fans, racist or not, remain extremely vocal
on this issue.
As they should, after all it is the fans who power the game. They pay the
money to see the superstars who provide the entertainment. How do you
silence even a small section of footy fans when they feel such an
ownership? If one player, a superstar to boot, who has more than once
ripped your team a new one, gives you a reason to hate (and boo) then
you’ll join in the hate and the booing.
Obviously the talk of the plans of Swans’ supporters staging some type of
protest is only going to exacerbate the problem. But there’s an irony
here. Goodes must wear some responsibility for inflaming the issue with a
post goal war-dance directed at Carlton fans several weeks ago. Other AFL
players who give as much as the middle finger to fans often face a
But not Goodes.
If the most decorated indigenous AFL player quits the game, it leaves the
issue dangling. Out there for all to see. The AFL doesn’t have an easy
scapegoat here. No 13-year-old girl who foolishly mouthed a racist tag she
didn’t really understand. Nobody to shame. No-one to crucify.
Politically, a corporate aspect all AFL clubs, (including Collingwood
whose President Eddie McGuire has a controversial history with Goodes),
must be seen to be active on the issue. The Geelong FC (which meets the
Swans in two weeks) has deemed it necessary to advise the Swans it would
do all it could to prevent fans from booing Goodes at Shell Stadium.
Adam Goodes, with his unskilful commenting on, and reacting to racism is
only making life more difficult for the AFL. The code, who in the past has
done so much to eradicate the ugly spectre of racism. Be it coming down
heavily on Collingwood ruckman Damien Monkhorst after he racially abused
Essendon’s Michael Long, or the more recent implementation of the highly
successful Indigenous round of matches, both synonymous with the code’s
The code who has to now extinguish the blaze which has been partially
fanned by Goodes. While you may not hear anyone from the AFL admit Goodes
may have had a negative impact on the mess, with Adam Goodes now deciding
against playing this weekend, the AFL must get this one right and right