Mike Welsh calls for action from the AFL to solve the Adam Goodes saga, but he also has some thoughts on who’s to blame.
The boo-ing saga swirling around Sydney Swans superstar Adam Goodes has the potential of spinning totally out of control. Spinning is what the AFL does with ease. It is as good a PR “spinner” of issues as there is to be found anywhere on the elite sporting map.
Losing control, however, is not something to which the AFL is accustomed.
As with many sensitive contemporary social issues, the code needs to dexterously negotiate around this minefield, which is growing larger by the week. The main danger comes from within, the AFL cannot be perceived by the fans to be tip-toeing around the Goodes issue.
Sporting fans are by their very nature loud and vocal. They WILL shout, they WILL scream, they WILL rant, and they WILL rave. And they WILL boo too. The fans, either side of racist divide remain extremely vocal on this particular issue.
As they should, after all it is the fans who power the game. They pay the money to see the superstars who provide the entertainment. How do you silence even a small section of footy fans when they feel such an ownership? If one player, a superstar to boot, who has more than once ripped your team a new one, gives you a reason to hate (and boo) then you’ll join in the hate and the booing.
Obviously the talk of the plans for Swans’ supporters to stage some type of protest is only going to exacerbate the problem, but there’s an irony here. Goodes must wear some responsibility for inflaming the issue with a post goal war-dance directed at Carlton fans several weeks ago. Other AFL players who give as much as the middle finger to fans often face a penalty.
Not Adam Goodes.
If the most decorated indigenous AFL player quits the game, it leaves the issue dangling out there for all to see. The AFL doesn’t have an easy scapegoat here. No 13-year-old girl who foolishly mouthed a racist tag she didn’t really understand. Nobody to shame. No-one to crucify.
Politically speaking, all AFL clubs, (including Collingwood, whose president Eddie McGuire has a controversial history with Goodes), must be seen to be active on the issue. The Geelong Cats (who meet the Swans in two weeks) have deemed it necessary to advise the Swans they would do all they can to prevent fans from booing Goodes at Shell Stadium.
Adam Goodes, with his unskillful commenting on, and reaction to racism is only making life more difficult for the AFL. The code has done so much to eradicate the ugly spectre of racism in the past. They came down hard on Collingwood ruckman Damien Monkhorst after he racially abused Essendon’s Michael Long and they’ve recently implemented the highly successful Indigenous round, actions which are both synonymous with the code’s progress.
The AFL has to now extinguish the blaze which has been partially fanned by Goodes. While you may not hear anyone from the AFL admit that Goodes may have had a negative impact on the mess, with him now deciding against playing this weekend, the AFL must get this one right…and right away.