As the the heart-breaking documentary about the downfall of Australian footballer prompted outpouring remorse among the public, we need to think of the next steps to tackle the longstanding racist problem in the country.
Adam Goodes posing after a training session in September 2012. Source: Getty
Racism has always been a deep-rooted issue in sports, with the level being particularly severe inside the football court.
There’s one thing about shouting out racial slur after a couple of beers, but when hostile commentaries and casual racism continue to attack targets off the sports ground as a result of media endorsement, we know things are truly getting out of control.
In fact, a football player was literally “booed out of the game” in Australia.
His name is Adam Goodes, an Aboriginal man who also happens to be one of the greatest Australian Rules Footballers of all time.
In case you’re scratching your head as to how such a heroic sportsman was exiled from the football field this way, you may consider watching “The Final Quarter” – a documentary entirely from archival footage of Goodes and the events that preceded his 2015 departure from football after the booing episodes sparked a national debate about racism.
The film premiered at the Sydney Film Festival last week and it left many with a heavy heart, some with outpouring by shame, anger and even tears.
Through the film, Director Ian Darling attempts to take the audience through the final three years in Goodes’ playing career – a time that was marred by the merciless boos, jeers and vicious slurs.
Darling said Goodes had told him he would watch the documentary only once. "It was a really, really difficult moment for us all," He said.
Watch the trailer of The Final Quarter below:
"I think for Adam to have to relive what he went through was really very traumatic … not only was the booing incredibly difficult to live through again, but I think also the outpouring of support and love.
Darling uses what happened to Goodes to shed light on the ugly truth. One where people would rather tear someone down in order to make one seems superior, one where people would almost normalize overt racism.
During the film, we watch Goodes point out a young Collingwood fan to security during a game in 2013 after she calls him an ape. Instead of educating her daughter following the incident, her mother showed no remorse. In fact, she told the press that he should apologize to her.
We watch Collingwood president Eddie McGuire personally apologise to Goodes over the incident, only to jokingly suggest on Melbourne radio the following week that Goodes should help promote the musical version of King Kong.
We watch how News Corp columnists Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine break him down as they go after him for being named the 2014 Australian of the Year and for his campaign for Indigenous constitutional recognition.
Then we watch the booing saga taking place during the match, with commentators and social media users insisting “it’s nothing to do with his race”.
The world watches the two-time Brownlow medallist gets torn apart, as haters shrugs and dismisses him for “taking things personal”.
What can we learn from it
Adam’s story is just the tip of an iceberg of the plight of the Aboriginal community faces in Australia.
“It doesn’t matter how successful you are, ignorance and hatred are always there.” Said Goodes.
So the Australian Football League finally apologized for failing Goodes during the racist booing saga. But what’s next?
Forty-three per cent of Indigenous Australians experienced at least one form of racial prejudice in the last six months, including verbal abuse, being refused entry to a venue or physical violence.
It’s time for Australia to talk about racism – listen to real experiences of victims, find out the severe impact of racism lives across the nation.
Honest conversations are key.
The Australian Human Rights Commission has released Let’s Talk Race: a guide on how to conduct a conversation about racism. It’s part of comprehensive education resources for the Racism. It Stops with Me campaign.
Support Adam Goodes with this hashtag: #WeStandWithAdam
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