What got us talking: AFL’s response to racism
Adam Goodes is one of the most decorated players in the AFL. He’s a two-time Brownlow medallist and premiership player for the Sydney Swans. He is also the 2014 Australian of the Year for his work in the Indigenous community.
But there have been a group of people who have booed Goodes throughout 2015 and even in previous seasons. It hasn’t been limited to a particular club’s supporter base: it has been widespread, unfair and quite honestly disgusting.
Although it hasn’t always been the case, the AFL has a strong stance against racism. It took the courageous actions of Nicky Winmar in 1993 and Michael Long in 1995 to create the change that so desperately needed to happen.
‘Rule 30: Discrimination and Racial and Religious Vilification’ was introduced to the AFL player rules in 1995 and still applies today. It aims to promote an inclusive environment for all, identify strategies to prevent racism from happening and to ensure those vilified are supported. Education and raising awareness about the impact vilification has on the person is also a key part of the rule.
But this year has proven some people are still uneducated and simply lack compassion towards those who they deem to be ‘different’. Racism is still rearing its ugly head.
But round 18 showed that despite some people’s shocking conduct, the AFL as a whole is united against any form of racism.
The AFL kicked off the round with their #AFLmanycolours campaign and all clubs took this on board. Indigenous players Lewis Jetta, Jeff Garlett and Michael Walters performed tribal dances as goal celebrations, Richmond wore their Indigenous jumper and the entire Melbourne Football Club wore tape coloured red, yellow and black to visually show their support.
Lindsey Thomas and Travis Varcoe also represented their Indigenous culture through aboriginal flags on their bicep and chest respectively. The Swans players ran though a banner simply saying ‘RESPECT’ in honour of Goodes, while former players Nicky Winmar, Byron Pickett and Gavin Wanganeen were on field before the Port Adelaide and St. Kilda match to show their support.
The coin toss also became a point of reference with Bulldogs captain Bob Murphy poignantly wearing the number 37 in his toss and Indigenous players Chris Yarran, Clem Smith and Lindsey Thomas joining their respective captains at theirs.
There was also widespread support on social media with the hashtag ‘#IStandWithAdam’ trending across Australia. Even those who have no affiliation or care for AFL took action to stand against racism.
These actions demonstrated the over-arching belief: we support Adam Goodes. Indigenous people and people of any race, religion, sexuality or gender should be supported. Our great game reaches people from all walks of life – it doesn’t discriminate and neither should we.
So with Multicultural Round coming up this week, it is important to continue the great support shown by all in the last week. Australia is a diverse multicultural society: from our Indigenous people as the earliest owners of the land to the newly arrived. Let’s welcome everyone in. Let’s allow everyone to feel accepted.
What we learnt from round 18
– To sometimes expect the unexpected
Hawthorn vs. Richmond, Collingwood vs. Melbourne and Gold Coast vs. West Coast: unlikely winners and results proved many tippers wrong last weekend. In a season that was starting to become predictable, round 18 added some spice into the fixture.
– Past players can come back to bite you
Jarrad Waite and Stewart Crameri both performed well against their former clubs. Two goals to Waite and a massive seven to Crameri reminded Carlton and Essendon what they let go.
– Richmond can beat the Hawks yet still drop a place on the ladder
Even after beating the reigning premiers in convincing fashion, the Tigers managed to drop from fifth to sixth place at the conclusion of round 18. They really can’t seem to catch a break.
What we can expect from round 19
– Grand final preview?
West Coast vs. Hawthorn will be the match of the season. Both are smarting from their round 18 stumbles and will come out firing. In a strange 2015 fixture, this will be the first time the two teams face each other this year: however I doubt it’d be last.
– Lacklustre crowd at the ‘G on Saturday afternoon
The poor form of both Carlton and Collingwood in recent times will see more supporters stay at home rather than trek to the ground. The two sides can usually boast crowds of more than 80,000, but it won’t be the case this weekend.
– Q-clash an experiment
Four field umpires will be trialled for the 2016 season during the Gold Coast vs. Brisbane match. The battle for last place will simply be a research trial for the AFL.
(First published on Bound For Glory News on the 5th August 2015)