OPINION: TO BOO OR NOT TO BOO, THAT IS THE QUESTION

Opinion: By Paul Bidmeade

Booing Goodes has racist undertones.

Mention the name Adam Goodes and it will be followed by raging debate; a verbal tennis match of various opinions.

To boo or not to boo, that is the question?

Adam Goodes is a two time Brownlow medalist, four time All-Australian and 2014 Australian of the Year.

Adam_Goodes_2012Perhaps it’s Australia’s highest honour that was bestowed upon him, which has resulted in a deafening boo whenever he touches the ball, or perhaps right-wing Australia is just racist (send my regards to Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones).

Adam Goodes isn’t perfect.

The majority of the time, he’s a great ambassador for the game; an Indigenous role model who spends most of his time off the field delivering programs focusing on combating domestic violence and instilling leadership among Indigenous males.

The ‘Adam Goodes Talent Program’ delivers monthly mentoring programs to ensure that Indigenous boys aged 11-15 can be the best they can be.

Yet in round 13 this year he came under scrutiny for a “squirrel grip” on Richmond player Taylor Hunt.

He has been criticised for staging for free-kicks, and then there was the infamous war dance.

Never has an imaginary spear caused such an outrage.

Adam Goodes’ on-field behaviour makes him a target, but the underlining reason he is booed is because he challenges white Australia’s beliefs.

He has referred to Australia Day as Invasion Day.

It may shock many Australians but I’m sure Turkey doesn’t refer to the 25th of April as ANZAC Day – different cultures have different names for days based on how they were affected.

Australia likes to believe that it has come a long way in the way it treats its Indigenous peoples.

Yet the leader of our country, Tony Abbott denied our Indigenous people even existed, in one of the many gaffes of his Prime Ministership.

Prior to 1788 Australia was nothing but bush,” the Prime Minister said during a breakfast for British prime minister David Cameron in Sydney .

He made matters worse when he referred to Aboriginal people who live in remote communities as making a “lifestyle choice.”

One thing is for certain, any crowd member who makes a racist remark towards Adam Goodes should be banned from attending AFL games for life.

As the old saying goes, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” yet the name-calling is clearly affecting Goodes.

He has taken extended leave from playing football and may retire all together.

The AFL has urged fans to stop booing, which has seem to incite people to boo louder.

What does that say about our society?

When a person has the courage to speak out against bullying, we chastise them and make them feel weak.

Are these the values we should be teaching our children?

As this verbal tennis match continues, the media seems to do more harm than good.

We see Eddie McGuire and Andrew Bolt launching their attacks that Goodes’ plays the victim.

McGuire’s King Kong gaffe of 2013 doesn’t help his argument, while Bolt breached the Racial Discrimination Act in 2009 for defaming nine Aboriginal people in articles which implied that light-skinned people who identified as Aboriginal did so for personal gain.

Whether the boos are racist or not, there’s racist undertones in the way Adam Goodes is being treated.

Booing is not racist. But two people using racist taunts, coupled by 40,000 people booing results in this racist undertone.

Australia as a nation often has difficulty recognising when we’re at fault.

We still fail to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our constitution and many will still fail to recognise that booing Adam Goodes is wrong.

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Paul Bidmeade is a freelance journalist who lives in Adelaide. He is a sports enthusiast, music lover and proud ‘Croweater.’

He plays football in winter and tennis in summer

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