BY MATHEW PURSER
I assume by now everyone is more than familiar with this weekend’s unfortunate story revolving around Sydney Swans’ star Adam Goodes?
If not, perhaps you’re reading this from somewhere outside of Australia, that link provides a surprisingly level-headed rundown of the whole sorry saga.
My interest in this story isn’t so much in the facts of the story itself or the way it has been handled because, in my own opinion, it’s been handled superbly from all involved. It’s been dealt with in a prompt yet considered manner without devolving into hysterical ‘OMG RACISM’ narratives that situations like this so often tend to. It was dealt with as a stupid little kid saying something stupid because she was too stupid to know any better.
Did I say the word stupid enough times there for the point to sink in? I hope so.
No, my interest has been piqued by the reactions of other sports fans, either from other sporting codes or even other clubs within the AFL itself.
I should preface this by pointing out that I am not an AFL fan, I’m a soccer supporter. I enjoy watching AFL but I feel no particular affinity to any particular club or the sport in general. It’s from this vantage point that I’ve had the misfortune of seeing fans of other sports attack not only the girl in question but AFL supporters and indeed the sport as a whole.
But why though? And how do the actions of a single teenager provide any sort of justification to launch broadsides against either the sport or its supporters?
Soccer fans especially are on shaky ground in circumstances such as this. Racism is a big problem, especially in European competitions. Should all soccer fans be tarred by that brush? Of course not, the mere thought is absurd. These also are incidents caused by individuals or groups of individuals whose ideals and views are in no way indicative or representative of supporters in general.
So what is it then? The most obvious answer is that it is borne of, for lack of a better term, an inferiority complex due to soccer being arguably the fourth most popular professional sport in Australia behind AFL, NRL and Rugby Union. They take whatever chance they can get to attempt to disrupt the status quo and knock the AFL off their perch. In the interests of fairness, it’s worth pointing out that a similar thing happens in reverse also with fans of other codes leaping on soccer fans indiscretions seemingly in an attempt to put them in their place and maintain their dominance and resultant revenue streams.
There is also another side to this as well, in which fellow AFL supporters are seizing upon this as an opportunity to attack or denigrate Collingwood fans.
As I initially pointed out I’m not an AFL fan but even from my relatively uninvolved vantage point I have seen myself that the apparent favourite pastime of anyone who supports an AFL that isn’t Collingwood to take the piss out of Collingwood fans. It seems they’re the AFL equivalent of the Manly Sea Eagles in the NRL or the Manchester United in the EPL, the team everybody loves to hate.
The problem with this is that racism is a very serious problem and societal issue. To cheapen it by using it as a crass generalisation against any group of people does nothing but desensitise people to it. And, let’s face it, there are apparently plenty of other reasons to give Collingwood fans a bullocking even without this.
At the end of the day, the girl screwed up, she was outed and humiliated in front of an entire nation and has since apologised and promised to work to amend the error of her ways. Surely everyone can just agree that it’s an unfortunate incident and leave it there?
Mathew has never referred to football as soccer so many times in his life. For more insight into sport and the world in general you can follow him on Twitter here.