Opinions have been noted. None of this is good. It should never have escalated to this point. And this week has really polarised rather than brought together those opinions. There is a big fence there separating two sides of the debate, and neither appears willing to adjust their field of vision. At the risk of sounding wishy-washy and of sitting on that big fence, there must be a little give and take in the minds of both sides, whether or not it is seen rightly or wrongly.
Those out there who say it has EVERYTHING to do with racism are not doing the argument much justice. Crowds at sports events who bond together to take on a collective disgruntlement in booing one player are generally boofheads with the collective IQ of a plastic cup full of beer. Goodes has been outspoken on a number of issues, some of which would go right over the top of the head of the mug footy supporter, and he is also seen as a player who has taken the opportunity to play for free kicks in the game if it arises. This kind of behaviour will always rile up opposition crowds, especially when at their home venue. When this kind of thing catches on with the football fraternity, it can catch like wildfire, and the initial reason behind the protest is forgotten - all that is remembered is that other crowds booed him, so we will too, but louder and longer! This is not meant to be seen as an excuse, but somewhat of a possible explanation for the continued rising of this phenomenon.
Those out there who say it has NOTHING to do with racism are just as blind and out of touch. Goodes has made his stand in recent years on many issues dealing with the indigenous people of Australia. He has made a stand on racism on and off the football field, publicly and on the biggest stage. Amongst that booing mob at every game have been people yelling racism comments, throwing racist taunts. This has been acknowledged and proven. Some of those people were ejected and barred, not all were caught or punished. Does the argument "a few bad eggs doesn't make it racism" count here? How many bad eggs were there? 10? 20? 50? How MANY bad eggs DOES make it racism?
The argument that this concerted booing is solely for his actions on the football field is also not viable. So he may play for free kicks when he can. That's why he's booed, and not for his skin colour? Why don't crowds boo Joel Selwood in the same way then? He has bought more free kicks in the last eight years than anyone by ducking his head at an opportune moment. How about the argument that because the crowds only boo one black man, and not all of them that play AFL - that means it isn't racist? Where does this mentality come from?!?
What about the argument that he's an elite athlete and should be able to handle being booed, just like Stuart Broad was in Australia last summer, or other players from any assortment of sports codes have been in the past, or even us mugs who just play at our club level far beyond where courtesy should be shown? Well, how many of them were booed EVERY SINGLE TIME they touched ball during the game, not just for a week or two weeks, but every single week? Pretty sure the answer is none. Put yourself in Goodes' shoes. If you were booed constantly, every week, no matter how you played or what you did, how long before you cracked? How long before it really began to sink in to your psyche? Think about it honestly, because no one likes being hated, and imagine how that would affect you week in week out.
The round of AFL played this weekend brought forth support from players, clubs and fans alike in many different ways. However, the only way this can be stopped is by the fans themselves. To collectively and individually refrain from targeting one player. That in itself would be a victory. There's no need to participate in cheering the player if you don't feel it warranted. By simply choosing not to follow the mob in booing one player will be enough to conclude this ugly business, and allow the game to return to the players as it should, and not the gossip columnists as it has been this past week.