Now that the name of Adam Goodes no longer invokes the mad capitulation of quasi-racism, can we sit back a moment and reflect on just what went on?
“I don’t know much about AFL, but…” the Facebook posts would begin, as the endless procession of social media-ites who had never been accused of racism would beg everyone to believe that they weren’t racists, and that they had a black friend to prove it.
I do happen to know much about AFL. I’ve seen the saga unfold, from the shameful Collingwood fan whose cringe-inducingly unoriginal epithet of calling Goodes an ‘ape’, to the war dance goal celebration, through to the eventual self-imposed exile in which Goodes placed himself until the AFL crowds finally started to settle down.
Now, there are two Adam Goodes. There is the Adam Goodes who plays AFL professionally for the Sydney Swans, who carries on in front of umpires to try to win free kicks, who runs off – in one of the more bizarre acts of antagonism in professional sport – to chide the opposition’s fans after scoring a goal instead of joining in the jubilation of his own.
Then there’s the Adam Goodes who stands up against racism not just in sport but in general day-to-day life, which has earned him Australian of the Year. This is a man who has said enough is enough and is tackling (pun; apologies) it head on.
I don’t much care for his on-field antics. Would I boo him for them? Perhaps in the heat of the moment, before it became so taboo (pun; sorry again). This whole situation boiled over when he began being booed with his first touch of the ball. Booing him became a thing and suddenly people were booing Adam Goodes without knowing why they were doing it.
Goodes, as he is more than in his right to do so, said he’d had enough and wouldn’t play until it was sorted.
Queue the Facebook trending topic.
Our access to news is abhorrently unorganised. Furthermore, the general masses have no sense of news literacy, taking everything read online as gospel. They see the spoon-fed news topics in their Facebook feeds and take what they fancy as fact, irrespective of who has written it: from sports journalists to people involved in the sport to the mummy blogger whose research is trawling through Google.
Nobody is taught to be critical of the news, and because of it, I have to sit and listen to people reiterate the rubbish they found online, who start every opinion of theirs with, “I don’t know much about it, but…”. Imagine Woodwood and Bernstein starting off their first Post article on the Watergate scandal in 1972 with, “I don’t know much about President Nixon, but…”
Perhaps this was never about booing. Perhaps we’re all just sheep with speech impediments.