Sydney Swans chairman Andrew Pridham addressed fans over the weekend just before the side went on to defeat Adelaide, but without Adam Goodes in the team. Fans responded to a week of debate about racism and booing by showing their support for Goodes.
Pridham’s speech once again demonstrated that the arguments justifying booing the Swans veteran and former Australian of the year don’t stack up. Here’s what he said:
He’s played 365 games – the most for a Swans player and most games on the SCG. Two-time premiership player. Two-time Brownlow medallist. Four-time All Australian. Former captain of the Swans. Former captain of the Australian International Rules team. Indigenous Team of the Century. AFL Rising Star (1999). Three-time Swans best and fairest. Three-time leading Swans goal kicker.
Co-founder of the GO Foundation which provides funding for education scholarships for Indigenous children between years 6 and 12 giving them certainty of a quality independent school education in Sydney. The Go Foundation has provided 11 such scholarships in 2015 and will provide another 11 next year for girls and boys. It’s a fantastic organisation, I think it’s a credit to Adam and Michael O’Loughlin that they founded that organisation.
Adam was then made the 2014 Australian of the Year.
He’s a son, a brother, an uncle, a partner, a team mate, a friend, an educator and a philanthropist.
This is what Adam Goodes is.
I believe that the events of the events of the last week are a seminal moment in our history – perhaps it was a moment that our nation needed to have.
Adam did not choose any of this to happen to him.
Adam did not choose to be called an ape.
Adam could not analyse in a matter of seconds whether the person who called him that was 13 years old, he couldn’t analyse in seconds that the security guards may have been overzealous in her ejection, he couldn’t analyse her family background.
Adam did not choose to be Australian of the Year.
His football brilliance has thrust him into the national spotlight.
Adam has achieved great things – and today we have seen he has shaken the nation’s conscience.
Some find his message and actions confronting – the issue of racism is so deep-seated nothing short of confronting can change the tide of generations of prejudice.
Some disgraceful media commentary from people of some profile either seeking ratings or relevance. Taking the contrary view for the sake of it even though the contrary argument is hopelessly outdated and flawed.
These people claiming:
It’s Adam’s fault – he needs to change his behaviours.
He is the victim.
It is akin to blaming a victim of rape for the way they dress, walk, talk. It is totally unacceptable.
It is said he is contemptible for calling out a 13-year-old girl.
He did nothing but show her compassion, calling her “innocent” and thinking of her wellbeing at a time that he was so deeply distressed that he couldn’t celebrate a win against Collingwood on the MCG.
People booed Jobe Watson, Hawthorn supporters boo Lance Franklin, Crows supporters boo Kurt Tippett therefore the booing week after week after week after week of Adam Goodes is not racist.
This is extraordinary logic, it is unfathomable, we know there are different reasons players get booed – we understand this.
Adam Goodes has been booed relentlessly because he’s Aboriginal and because he’s had the courage to stand and speak about matters close to his heart.
Some say that it’s political correctness gone mad, it’s not political correctness, it’s just correctness. It’s just decency.
The handful of media commentators and high profile former sportsmen who have used these arguments are so hopelessly out of step with today’s community standards it is frightening. History will judge them very harshly – if they are remembered at all.
People in our society who have a voice in the media have a great responsibility. To use their position for whatever reasons to provide cover, to invent, to highlight excuses for racism, intolerance and bullying for the most undesirable elements in our society is appalling and dangerous.
The Swans position on this matter is very clear – you cannot be a little bit racist. If you boo Adam you are now unequivocally known that this behaviour is hurtful and discriminatory. There is no excuse. None. And we will not accept any excuse.
Those who argue we are trying to sanitise the game, we are not. Paying $30 to come to a game of football does not give somebody the right to humiliate, to taunt, to bully, to racially vilify anybody and we will not accept it and the game will not accept it.
People will still boo at the football. However, we do understand there is a vast difference between what Adam has been subjected to and what players who are booed because they’ve moved clubs or because of an incident on a particular game day, we understand there’s a difference.
Stan Grant called it howls of humiliation. And that is how Adam feels and that is certainly how I feel and I know everyone close to Adam and the Sydney Swans feels that way.
I am certain that unlike the detractors, Adam’s greatest achievements are ahead of him and that we have only seen the first chapter in his magnificent life.
Adam has used his voice to educate. He has stood tall. He is a great leader.
Change only occurs when someone takes a stand.
Rosa Parks, who in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama refused to stand for a white person in the coloured section of a bus. She was arrested. She was later to become the face of the Civil Rights Movement and heralded for her actions. Despite this she faced massive discrimination – she was fired from her job, she regularly received threats and these were the days before people could cowardly hide behind anonymously on social media. Media of the day claimed it was her own fault, she was divisive, she was uppity, and she was refusing to conform to the good ways of society. Does this sound familiar? It does to me.
American actor Samuel L Jackson said, and I think this sums up the situation to me:
“People know about the Ku Klux Klan and the overt racism, but the killing of one’s soul little by little, day after day, is a lot worse than someone coming into your house and lynching you.”
This perfectly describes what so many Indigenous players, and Aboriginal people in our country are forced to endure on a daily basis.
This is the problem. I am very uncomfortable with the term I have heard so much this week “casual racism”. Something people only occasionally do on weekends. The Swans call it for what it is. You cannot be a little bit racist. And if you stand by and allow it to happen you are part of the problem. We ask everybody to show respect and to become part of the solution.
Adam and the Sydney Swans have not sought to be in the middle of this maelstrom of public debate. Regardless, we embrace the opportunity to assist in defining the issue and to challenge outdated views and hopefully to educate.
Adam and Michael O’Loughlin’s GO Foundation seeks to educate kids to get them into schools and to get them out of schools, educated, and into a better life. Hopefully this whole distressing saga is educating millions of people to think about the issues of racism and bullying. To consider their thinking and their actions.
We all need to move forward. We need to learn from these events, to be a better game, and a better nation. I’m confident that we’ll come out of this stronger, better and more compassionate.
All that we ask for is respect.
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