Sport AFL Why every AFL player should stand with Goodes

Why every AFL player should stand with Goodes

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If we’re serious about stopping the booing of Adam Goodes, it’s incumbent on every AFL player to show their support for the Swans champion.

Realistically, Goodes is in the last 10 weeks of his AFL career.

Do we want to see him booed into retirement?

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The AFL has called for it to stop. Selected coaches and players, in scheduled media conferences, have called for it to stop.

And yet it doesn’t stop. It gets louder.

So, how about this:

Lewis Jetta was just backing up his mate. Photo: Getty

Before Sydney’s game next week against Adelaide, every Crows player gets over to Goodes and shakes his hand.

Or the Crows could run through the banner with the Swans.

Then it could happen the following week down at Simonds Stadium against Geelong, and the week after that against Collingwood – and it could keep happening every week up until the last Saturday in September, if the Swans are lucky and good enough to make it that far.

In a 21st-century race war – fought in the media, with images and words taking the place of violence – that would send a powerful message.

Players need to stand shoulder to shoulder with Goodes, just as Lewis Jetta attempted to do on Sunday.

Jetta was just backing up his mate. What’s more Australian than that?

Jetta was out working with Goodes, at Subiaco Oval in Perth, when he finally had enough of the jeers directed at his friend every time he got near the football.

Getty. Adam Goodes
Goodes was named Australian of the Year in 2014. Photo: Getty

Jetta was perhaps embarrassed by the reception Goodes was receiving in front of his hometown supporters, or maybe he’d just reached the end of his rope after weeks and weeks of hearing the same old song.

In doing a similar, spear-throwing goal celebration to that which Goodes performed against Carlton back in May, Jetta effectively said to the crowd: ‘if you’re going to boo him, boo me while you’re at it’.

And, five minutes later, they did just that when Jetta came close to a touch on the edge of the centre square.

Everybody who follows football has an opinion on the booing of Adam Goodes.

Some have no issue with it at all – taking the stance that good players have been booed since the dawn of sport.

They vehemently declare it’s not racist, pointing to the fact that other Indigenous players don’t get booed.

Some say it’s because Goodes ‘stages’ for free kicks.

Other, better judges, like respected commentators Gerard Whateley and Francis Leach, say there is a strong undercurrent of racism about the whole thing.

The AFL is sick of it, CEO Gillon McLachlan declaring enough was enough on Melbourne radio on Monday.

Opposition players need to show their support for Goodes. Photo: Getty
Opposition players need to show their support for Goodes. Photo: Getty

“This is something that’s not been going on for a few weeks, it’s been going on for months now and I just don’t know that it reflects well on our game and I think people have had enough of it,” he said.

Eagles star and Brownlow medallist Matt Priddis was bothered by the booing on Sunday.

“It’s a bit of a sheep mentality I suppose. The first couple were a little quiet and it picked up a little … so it’s a little bit disappointing,” Priddis said.

“I think it’s an AFL issue at the moment, not just West Coast fans, but I think a level of respect needs to be shown to all players regardless.

“Adam is a great citizen, an AFL great, two-time Brownlow medallist and he deserves a lot of respect.”

It’s a start, but it’s not enough.

The Goodes saga is the latest PR nightmare in a calamitous year for the AFL.

So far, Jetta’s support of Goodes has only served to fan the flames.

Likewise, the calls from league headquarters have fallen on deaf ears.

If players from other clubs threw their weight behind Goodes and showed solidarity – as they did so wonderfully in the days following Phil Walsh’s death – perhaps genuine progress would be made in Australian race relations.

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