Adam Goodes: My Response


Hi mate

I appreciated your email about Goodes. I thought that what you sent was well-written and well-considered. So much so that I sent it on to a friend of mine at The Age, Tim Boyle (no relation), to get his thoughts on it.

His response was, shall we say, frosty. He sent me links to a couple of articles on the subject, one of which is his column for the weekend. I include the link; I think you’ll find it interesting. It’s also a great piece of writing.

I was inclined to agree with you on the thirteen-year old. I would be very surprised that if Goodes had known she was thirteen, he would have acted the way he did. I think he would have waited his opportunity to call out a far more appropriate target.

When I mentioned it to Tim, he said that, ‘the girl is a red herring. You don’t get to choose who racially abuses you, and apart from that, Goodes made a public statement afterwards imploring everyone to support her, and that it was not her fault, etc.

‘And really, this is the whole point from an Indigenous perspective: first they are taunted, and then they are told how they are allowed to react to being taunted.’

I think that’s pretty hard to argue with. It’s unfortunate she was thirteen, but if it was anyone else, it would have been justly deserved.

Tim was also a gun Hawthorn player, and when I asked about Goodes as a footballer, he told me,

“With regard to his playing style, he’s won two Brownlow medals. He’s been a wonderful player by any measure. He does have some antics, a little staging, etc, but not any worse than a hundred other blokes.

‘The booing came on after the incident with the girl and the Australian of the Year speech, in which he addressed some racial issues from his perspective.”

I have been following the issue closely the past few days, and reading a great deal to do so. I googled Goodes’ Australian of the Year speech and discovered it to be pretty straightforward, inclusive and positive. You can read the full transcript at the end of this article:

Goodes didn’t, at any point, mention ‘Invasion Day.’

Personally, I don’t think anyone can disagree with the notion that Australia Day is ‘Invasion Day’. It celebrates an idea which, for indigenous Australians, is at the root of the experience Stan Grant describes. Have a listen to Malcolm X’s speech, ‘We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock; Plymouth Rock landed on us.’

Unlike Tim, I can’t claim a credible opinion on how Adam Goodes plays the game. I have personally responded to the debate surrounding his booing.

When I think about that man on the ground with a wall of hostile, aggressive spectators rearing up in front of him as he spreads his heart and soul out on the grass, which is fused with the way he has exposed himself in the public forum, it hurts me in a way that comes as no greater surprise to anyone than me.

I published your comments because my blog is a kind of killing floor. I like the idea that anything goes and anything can happen, because that kind of rawness requires – and demands from its readers – a kind of courage. It also pushes unequivocally the idea that words are only words and must be handled as such. Our real business is with the shadows that rear up behind them.

I don’t think you can boo to protest Goodes’ on-ground conduct as a footballer at this point. To begin with, booing is trolling. Further, it’s inarticulate and given the other very long shadows that are now moving around the ground about him, you need to be accurate and articulate in your criticism.

You wrote about people making disparaging comments in relation to your post and said that it was nerve-wracking. Now imagine how Adam feels while the media is frothing, and all those spectators are booing from the stands.

In his Australian of the Year speech, Goodes said that “I’m so grateful for this award and this honour, however the real reward is when everyone is talking to their mates, to their families and their children, having those conversations… about racism.”

In this debate, one of the most important for all Australians, I think this is our small part to play. You stood by me through a number of skirmishes, as Matt Samartzis did. And for that, we will always be friends.

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