When Lewis Jetta celebrated his indigenous culture after slotting a goal in the last quarter against West Coast on Sunday, it should have been a celebration; a celebration of Australia’s indigenous game and all the good things that encompass it. Jetta, a proud indigenous footballer himself had a made a public stand to the vitriolic booing of teammate Adam Goodes.
It is worth noting that at the Swans each player is assigned a mentor when they are drafted as they settle into life as a professional footballer. Goodes was Jetta’s mentor and while having a strong bond as a teammate, their mateship as friends off the field should not be discounted when discussing the latest furore.
Jetta’s war cry should have been a narrative of mateship, friendship and an act worthy of lauding. But it wasn’t. It was somehow turned it something it was not.
What a shame Adam Goodes has been booed across the country. A two-time Brownlow Medalist, two-time premiership player, four-time All-Australian and three-time club best and fairest winner does not deserve being hung out to dry on a weekly basis purely because he doesn’t conform to the conservative narrative that so many want to believe in.
What a shame those booing Goodes think it’s not racist. While most are not openly racist, by booing Goodes, you give those that are an unwarranted voice.
What a shame, in standing up for his mate, Lewis Jetta’s dance in the final term of Sunday’s game was seen as violent rather than a very public display of taking a stand. Jetta had had enough of his mate being booed week after week and it was time to make that known.
What a shame both Adam Simpson and John Longmire had to defend Jetta when it should have just been a footnote in a positive narrative for the game.
“There were a couple of times I heard some booing and thought, ‘What was that?’ I was sort of hoping we would be better than that,” Simpson told local media after the game.
“He (Jetta) wanted to celebrate the goal and he wanted to stick up for a mate,” Longmire said post-match, echoing Simpson’s thoughts.
“I think he was upset. Well, I know he was upset. I spoke to him after the game and he was upset at the booing.“
How did it come to this?
What a shame a great of AFL football’s immediate reaction was to deride Jetta’s heroic actions. Glen Jakovich, speaking on SEN during the call said Jetta’s war dance was “unacceptable in any sport”. Jakovich should know better. He must know better, surely.
What a shame Jakovich’s comments were not derided but rather echoed by Paul Hasleby, another great of Western Australian football. Hasleby took to Twitter on Sunday to make the ludicrous comparison that Goodes’ booing was somehow an equal of the booing of Ryan Crowley. You see, Paul, they could not be any more different. Crowley gets booed for on-field actions, where the crowd’s issues with him start and finish in the confines of a stadium. Goodes gets booed because he stands up for what he believes in. He makes people uncomfortable because he challenges the status quo and some people simply cannot stomach that.
What a shame Gillon McLachlan had to go on radio on Monday morning to defend Jetta’s actions. “I’m okay with it. I think it was a statement of support for Adam,” the AFL chief said of Jetta’s war dance. It is 2015 and somehow one of the most powerful men in Australian sport is forced to defend actions that should be seen as a positive in the face of adversity.
“I don’t think this reflects well on our game and people have had enough. It’s having an emotional toll and it’s time to stop,” McLachlan said. He had his critics after the Demetriou reign before but surely it is now beyond doubt he is the perfect person to take the game forward.
What a shame West Coast’s resounding win over Sydney will now be overshadowed. It should have been a day that the Eagles showed themselves as a genuine premiership contender but instead the story to come out of the game is so much more important than football.
What a shame it appears that some in football have not learnt a thing since Goodes called out a 13-year-old girl for racism in 2013. It should have been two years of introspection and a chance to show footy was better than deriding Goodes and making the girl the victim, no matter how young she was.
The worst part of this whole dreadful episode is the next time an indigenous footballer makes a stand for what’s right, the vicious cycle will repeat itself. We will be back to square one soon enough.
This could be Goodes’ last year as a player, and instead of celebrating a fine career, 2015 will be punctuated by an undercurrent of racism every time he has stepped onto the field. Footy really should be better than this.
What a shame.