Racism in any form is abhorrent and when we, the fans of a sport we love so much, see it on the front pages of the news because of racist taunt during a match, we sigh a bit in sheer disappointment. We don’t expect our game, our sport to be seen in this way. Yet unfortunately it is all too apparent that it is. Racist taunts about players who are undoubtedly some of the greatest in the sport at the moment, are terrible but it is because these players are still viewed by some in Australia as second-class citizens.
The Aboriginal people in the footy world are among the most respected players, administrators, coaches and are highly respected. The vast majority of supporters value not only their incredible sporting ability but the way they go about promoting not only their culture but their heritage. They become real beacons of hope and what can be achieved in life to others within their community.
Yet they are still considered as second-class Australians and Eddie Betts from Adelaide FC, who was the brunt with the racist comment, together with Patrick Ryder, has rightly stated that the Aboriginal footballers are fighting a battle to be treated the same as their fellow non-Aboriginal teammates.
The AFL has come out and rightly so, condemned not only the perpetrators of this current racist insults, but racism as a whole in the sport. The media interviewed the perpetrators, videoed them and plastered photos of them in their papers, news programs.
Each media is really missing the point that the Aboriginal leaders, both in the sport and in society in general. The point is that they are asking the question why is it that this issue only comes to a head when someone outside of the community makes a racially derogatory comment about a player they don’t like and from a team they don’t like.
Why should this issue be raised only at that time? Why isn’t is broadcasted every single day of the year the incredible history, legacy and culture the Aboriginal? Why are we still treating them as second-class citizens? Why aren’t we doing more to ensure that they, and even others of other ethnicity are treated by the supporting public are seen as equals in the arena and out of it?
As sports fans, no matter if it is footy or any other sport in Australia we must do all we can to stamp out this type of behaviour that has been splashed on our front pages. We can ban them, send them off somewhere to educate them, but that is not enough. Not even the once a year Aboriginal Round is enough, it is a start, but not enough.
We need to educate and ensure that everyone involved in the sport whether as a player or a supporter is respected not for the colour of their skin, their religion, or even their sexual orientation, but who they are and what they give to the sport. We must view each one as first class citizens. We can dislike a player, boo them, get irritated at them, but we must not stoop to a level that shows ignorance and pure hatred based on the colour of their skin. It’s not sportsmanship and it’s not footy.