Australia's AFL public should be ashamed that one of the greatest football players in the history of the game has chosen not to play this weekend, says former Australian rules player.
By
Andrea Booth

31 Jul 2015 - 2:29 PM  UPDATED 31 Jul 2015 - 4:16 PM

Five-time premiership winner Kevin Bartlett told the Marngrook Footy Show on Thursday night, "we've got one of the greatest players in the history of the game thinking of not playing again, he’s not playing this weekend, and that’s something we should all be ashamed of."

The Sydney Swans will play at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday afternoon without dual Brownlow medallist and games record-holder Adam Goodes after he announced he was taking leave following incessant booing during last week's match against the West Coast Eagles by the crowd at Perth Stadium.

“Once Adam Goodes says this is hurtful, please stop, you would hope that the football public…would pull back and stop,” Bartlett said.

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Meanwhile, in an illustration of this story's saturation across Austalian media this week, Andrew Bolt was speaking about the same subject on the ABC, saying that the booing towards Goodes was not because of his race and instead because of his "overreaction" to pulling up a 13-year-old girl who called him a racially loaded word, "ape", during AFL’s Indigenous Round in 2013.

"Adam Goodes wasn’t regularly booed before that incident so it's not because he's Aboriginal or anything like that," Bolt, a News Limited columnist, told 7.30.

“People saw [Goodes drawing attention to her name calling] as a massive overreaction.”

“People saw [Goodes drawing attention to her name calling] as a massive overreaction.”

The hashtag #IStandWithAdam reached the top Australian trend on Twitter by Thursday as Australians united in support for Goodes.

Senator Nova Peris tweeted "Black & Proud #IStandWithAdam #Represent". 

Twitter user Shifa Mustapha wrote: "Adam Goodes booed off the field?! #IStandWithAdam & against racism”. Wiradjuri playwright Anita Heiss said: "Waleed Aly nails it - Australians are tolerant until minorities demonstrate we don't know our place!"

The hashtag came when a firestorm of controversy erupted after some personalities denied that the jeers were borne of racial discrimination. Former Brisbane Roar goalkeeper Griffin McMaster caught the attention of the public even after he deleted his Tweet suggesting the First Australian be deported.

Other Australians maintained that the fact the conversation was around race showed that racial discrimination was at the heart of insulting Goodes.

Stan Grant wrote in a comment piece in Guardian Australia that growing up in a society that perpetuated racism towards Indigenous Australians was a scar that was carred and stoked with slander:

"I may be overly sensitive. I may see insult where none is intended. Maybe my position of relative success and privilege today should have healed deep scars of racism and the pain of growing up Indigenous in Australia. The same could be said of Adam. And perhaps that is right.

"But this is how Australia makes us feel. Estranged in the land of our ancestors, marooned by the tides of history on the fringes of one of the richest and demonstrably most peaceful, secure and cohesive nations on earth."

"But this is how Australia makes us feel. Estranged in the land of our ancestors, marooned by the tides of history on the fringes of one of the richest and demonstrably most peaceful, secure and cohesive nations on earth."

AFL Commission CEO, Mr Gillon McLachlan said in a statement on Wednesday that "racism has no place in our game."

"While I respect that people may have different views about what is happening to Adam, it is impossible to separate this issue from the issue of race."

Gamilaroi man Luke Pearson, a social justice worker and founder of rotating Indigenous-focused Twitter account Indigenous X, said he believed people thought they could be excused from racist behaviour if they engaged in indirect discrimination.

"Some people seem to think that in order for it to be classed as racially motivated they would need to hate him 'just for being Aboriginal' and that any flimsy excuse automatically removes any racial element," Mr Pearson told NITV News. 

Reconciliation Australia said in a statement on Facebook that it encouraged AFL Clubs to call for greater community understanding around reconciliation and endorsed AFL clubs that had this week committed to educating further the communities in which they work.

"It is moments like this in our history that makes way for leaders both on and off the field, and this includes the media to stand up for equity, justice and reconciliation."