The current situation involving Adam Goodes has, to put it lightly, intrigued Australia. It involves our most fanatic "religion" – AFL. Worse than this, it involves the very nation of Australia itself. The overly patriotic among us aren’t merely intrigued. They’re angry. And rightly so. Goodes is an outspoken Aboriginal man and his harsh words concerning this country were always going to bite – they were intended to do so. How dare he critique us after receiving our award! A good dog usually sits down once he gets his treat. Surely Goodes knew that Australia would bite back. But where is the safest place one can go to bite? Hmm.
It’s not uncommon to hear the slur “faggot” at your local footy oval. I hear it constantly amidst all the colourful language we hold so dearly in this country. Apparently, if you’ve always wanted to yell this out in a crowded area but have never received the chance to do so, your local footy oval will provide the safest place for this. Unlike the next day, at your workplace, in line at the café, walking through the mall, you won’t be reprimanded at all. Better yet, children can be taught new words and not only new words but also how to use them properly. For example, use the word “ape” when the Aboriginal player is in view. Oh, whoops, you used it wrong. He heard you.
Have you ever been to a buck’s party or a hen’s night? It’s intriguing to note that sometimes the usually sweet, shy and innocent guy or girl is capable of turning into a monster of raunch. The point isn’t that he or she is wrong for doing so. The point is that he or she has now entered an environment where they can do what they’ve always wanted to do without fear of judgment. When Australia steps through those gates at the footy we receive the chance to do what we want to do. For some it's the hopeful chance of a pleasant family outing. For others it's the chance to relentlessly boo whoever for whatever. For some it’s the chance to be racist, and they take it. Adam Goodes knows it, and so does Indigenous Australia. Think about that for a second: most, possibly all, of Indigenous Australia believe this to be a racial issue to some degree. To deny this is to deny us. If you’re not indigenous you don’t know what it’s like. You hardly ever walk down the street and greet a complete stranger with “Hey, brother” simply because he’s the same colour as you. That’s a black thing. Perhaps Indigenous Australia experiences Australia differently. Perhaps we think about Australia differently. Perhaps there's a good reason for that.
If I walked into one of the rooms of a lopsided house I wouldn’t critique the room for its inability to provide a safe environment. I’d check the foundations. The culture of footy provides the room for racism and more. And every spectator picks their room to watch the footy in. To not see this is to not see the forest for the trees.