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Tag Archives: afl

Who provides the news: Journalists or Twitter?

I’ve noticed recently that a number of articles in the mainstream media revolve around what people are saying on Twitter.

I settle into any particular article before the journalist announces that “Twitter went into meltdown”, or “it created a Twitter storm”.

Two articles over the weekend (about the only two I read) proved my point.

The first was from the Fremantle versus Hawthorn game on Friday night: a game I cared little about but the headline sounded interesting: Hawthorn vs Fremantle, talking points from AFL preliminary final.

“Worth a look” I thought.

The second paragraph of the article ends with ‘Social media agreed’ before giving us screen shots of a number of tweets from nobody in particular.

A paragraph later – which was about a lout in the crowd – was concluded with ‘The spectator was widely condemned on social media’.

A string of more tweets.

Further down the article we are treated to tweets about the umpiring before this announcement: ‘Even Shane Warne didn’t like what he was seeing’.

Was he interviewed? No. There was a screenshot of his tweet.

Truly pathetic journalism.

The second article was more up my ally: Is it aliens? NASA sends space fans into frenzy with news of a “major announcement”.

As with the football article it turned out to be little more than collection of tweets from a bunch of nobodies. How’s this one, for example:

Wow! Can’t believe that our mainstream media even bothered with that.
I’ve only picked two articles from the weekend but it’s a trend I’m seeing more and more in the media – even in political articles. Has anybody else noticed?

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“I’m black and I’m proud to be”

The Adam Goodes’ saga reminds us that racial vilification is one of sport’s most contentious issues.

Racism in sport historically has been a display of taken for granted behaviors and attitudes. Without recourse, Indigenous Australians have been racially abused from the day they first stepped into the sporting arena. AFL, in particular, had fostered an environment where racist behavior happened systematically, and arguably racism become a sporting institution.

In the early 1990s the dimensions of racism were sufficiently bad for the AFL to convene meetings to discuss players’ code of conduct, albeit their efforts never went beyond being merely token approaches. It was not until Essendon’s Michael Long in 1994 made a public statement against the abuse he had to endure exclaiming “I’ve had enough of this shit. I don’t have to take it”, was it seriously addressed.

Despite years of inaction during which racial vilification sullied the football field, the AFL acted with admirable swiftness following Long’s complaint. By June of that year it introduced Rule 30, the Racial and Religious Vilification Rule, making it an offence for any player or official to threaten, disparage, vilify or insult another person on the basis of that person’s race, religion, colour, descent or national background. The then Federal Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Nick Bolkus called for the punishment of offenders found guilty of racial abuse, as by now the Long appeal was heard in the highest corridors of Australian society. By the start of the 1998 season, the penalties were a $10,000 fine for a player’s first offence and/or a $20,000 fine for the club.

One of the beauties of sport ‘is that it can, in a single moment of clarity, illuminate or delineate a mood or a movement or an era’ (Tatz et al, 1998:96). In 1993, the International Year of the Indigenous Person saw widespread public discussion of Aboriginal issues, but the most articulate summary of the national lassitude was non-verbal: the image of Nicky Winmar raising his guernsey and pointing at his black skin. This defining moment occurred as a response to loud racist abuse from the opposition’s cheer squad. Some reports suggest he yelled, “I’m black and I’m proud to be.” Whatever his words, the classic photograph of him defiantly pointing at his skin was a potent symbol that forced a nation to search its communal soul.

With the reputation of a player prone to extreme bouts of temper – no doubt as a response to the provocation of racist insults (personal view) – he had never been more eloquent or effective for his cause or his colour than he was in that moment.

Twenty years later Adam Goodes is confronted with the same abuse as he raises another potent symbol of his Aboriginality. And again we search our communal soul.


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We Have The Right To Boo, Do We Have The Maturity Not To?

When somebody points out that Adam Goodes is being booed not because he’s indigenous, it’s because of his “behaviour”, I can almost buy it. After all the argument goes, there are plenty of non-indigenous players who get booed and nobody boos Cyril.

And if most of them stopped exercising their right to free speech there and then, I might be convinced. However, it’s usually the next sentence that gets me, because the next sentence is usually akin to saying, “I’m not being sexist! This isn’t beacuse you’re a woman, this is because of your refusal to understand that you’re the one who’s meant to do the dishes.”

I’ve read one letter in the paper that suggested that Goodes is being booed because he “lacks humility”. Mm, we don’t like uppity people is this country, do we? Uppity? How is that racist? I’m just saying that we prefer those who know their place!

There was also the suggestion that it was his “war dance” that’s caused the booing. Apart from the fact that this overlooks the fact that much of the booing occured before that, it seems a massive over-reaction to an exuberant celebration after a goal. Have a look at some of the celebrations from players over the years! Can you think of any that have caused such prolonged anamosity from fans of different clubs for so long? Nah, it’s not racist, it’s just because he chose to do a particular dance in celebration and we reserve the right to determine which dances people do and the manner in which they do them.

Of course, with his show of support, can we expect Lewis Jetta to be booed every time he touches the ball, or does he possess the necessary humility that we can forgive him and just get on with the game.

But it’s the suggestion that it was “the way he treated that thirteen year old girl” that probably irks me most.

When it’s all said and done, he looked at her and pointed her out to security after she called him “an ape”.

But that was appalling behaviour someone wrote, a great hulk of a man standing over a poor little girl like that.

Except that he wasn’t standing over her, she was in the crowd, he only looked and pointed. Of course, he should have been able to tell that she was only thirteen because, after all, she had her age tattooed on the forehead. And at thirteen, apparently, it’s permissible to make racist comments. Would it have been different if it were this she when she’d reached fourteen? To help, so that I don’t make Goodes’ mistake and alert security to anyone calling out offensive comments, could someone tell me at what age I’m allowed to report someone?

Is this what I should do in future? “Excuse me, but I was wondering what age you are, because I’m about to alert security to your comments and I don’t want to bring criticism upon myself? Oh thirteen, well you go right on with your comments about that guy’s sexuality. Personally, I think he was very brave to be the first openly gay AFL player, but I’m sure that your mother who’s been making those lovely comment about that Asian player will set you straight when you turn 21.”

Hey, she only called him “an ape”, she didn’t know that it was racist. Well that’s what the papers said, and they certainly wouldn’t have watered it down so they could print it, would they? How could a thirteen year old possibly know that it was racist?

And recenlty we had the mother of the girl saying this:

“If he hadn’t have done it he wouldn’t be having the problems he’d be having now. He probably should apologise because maybe he should have picked his target a little bit better. She’d only turned 13 five days beforehand. She was technically still 12. She had no idea what she was saying.”

Now, I don’t know what part of only turning thirteen a few days beforehand make one “technically still 12”, but it’s pretty clear that this mother has now explained that to her daughter why calling someone an “ape” is wrong.

It’s also interesting that whoever was with her that night at the football was negligent for allowing this poor young girl who – at thirteen – is too young to know anything about what’s right and wrong for allowing to be led off by security all by herself. Surely they should have accompanied her to check she was all right.

Nah, it seems he should have just left it. What till the girl turns eighteen and knows that what she did could have been seen as racist. Just like all those football fans know that it’s ok to boo Adam Goodes because he looked at a white girl and pointed when he should have just accepted that she’s allowed to call him whatever she likes because she’s too young to know better.

I’ll be interested in hearing the same defence should a thirteen year old Muslim boy ever getts themseleves into trouble for something they say. More specifically, I’ll be interested to hear people condemn the neighbour or teacher or whoever reported him for not simply ignoring it, because thirteen year olds don’t know any better.

Aboriginallity, it’s fine. We even have an indigenous round. But I can’t help wondering how far some people have moved since Collingwood President, Alan Macalister’s remark about aboriginal players all those years ago:

“… as long as they behave like white people, well, off the field, everyone will admire and respect them.”

Yep, I can accept people have a right to boo. Free speech and all. But now, we all have a big think about the context. Booing Adam Goodes has become racist, because it is being defined that way, and the Andrew Bolt argument that white people should determine what’s racist and what’s not doesn’t really cut it. If you were in the middle of a crowd that was cheering when someone was being attacked and you began to cheer as well, it doesnt make sense to argue that you weren’t joining in with those cheering the attackers, you were cheering because of some totally differnet reason.

So by all means boo Adam Goodes if you like. But let’s be clear you’re booing him because he identified a girl who was racially vilifying him, or because he proudly exhibits his heritage. These are the main reasons being given. To say that I’m joining the crowd for a different reason, is a bit like someone arguing that they joined the Nazi party, not for the policies, but because they had such spiffy uniforms (Yes, I know, Godwin’s Law!)


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