‘Just get over it’
This period and its ongoing shockwaves had a wider impact on myself and many other proud Aboriginal men and women.
We as a people were being battered from pillar to post, and basically sent to play on the sidelines, as the rest of the nation decided what was and was not racist. It was far more painful than sitting on the bench at any stage of my AFL career.
Instead of having a conversation and being willing to learn about what was said and why it was hurtful, we were told why we were overreacting and that it was on us.
We’ve seen people jump to Gary Ablett Jr’s defence around a recent booing situation. Let’s keep in mind this booing of Ablett comes off the back of him committing acts that end with him in front of the tribunal.
Not many of the football and wider media wanted to jump to Goodesy’s defence. He just had to get over it. Frame it that way and it can only have been motivated by one thing, racism.
People who say that they didn’t like the way he played are looking for reasons not to like him and perhaps make it easier to put their head on the pillow at night.
He was a champion who could play in any position and, over the course of a career that lasted the best part of two decades, he was only suspended twice in more than 300 games.
He will be a walk-up start into the Australian Football Hall of Fame. And I will be so proud that night.
If people claim they didn’t like him for who he was, then they need to have a look at what they’ve done for their communities.
Adam was Australian of the Year in 2014 for his work trying to end racism and with Indigenous youth community programs. Yet people still found flaws.
As The Final Quarter so plainly shows, Adam was driven from our game. Run out of town. Shunned from a sport and world he gave his beautiful heart and magnificent skill to. He and his footy club asked people to stop booing, they didn’t, and he left shattered.
A chance to be better
This documentary isn’t easy to watch. But imagine how it was to live through for the proud Aboriginal man at the centre of it.
Not everyone who played a role in this situation will feature but I’m sure their thoughts or beliefs will. When you do watch, I would encourage you all to reflect on how you acted. Think about the missed opportunities you had for leadership, remember bystanders are just as complicit as perpetrators.
It is so often put on the minority to be the ‘bigger person’ and leave their ego at the door to educate everyone else. Because so often white Australia hides behind ignorance as an excuse.
Without Adam putting his arm out and taking umbrage with being called an ape, we wouldn’t have this documentary. Without this documentary we wouldn’t be having the ensuing conversations around what is and isn’t racist and how to act.
The Final Quarter is one of the most important pieces of work in this nation’s long and chequered history. It is a chance to get better as a country by looking at our past and making a change for the future.
I can’t wait to shake the hand of the man at the middle of it and tell him again how proud he makes me. Thank you, Goodesy.
- Tony Armstrong played for Adelaide Crows, Sydney Swans and Collingwood between 2010 and 2015. He was a teammate of Adam Goodes at the Swans.