There’s plenty in the news cycle this week about AFL star Adam Goodes.
Or should that be indigenous star? Or maybe Australian of the Year, AFL legend and Aboriginal rights campaigner Adam Goodes.
After all, I don’t want to offend. Or even worse, appear racist.
Either way, I’m of the opinion the man is always playing the victim. He’s called Australia a racist country … and he is our Australian of the Year.
He speaks of Invasion Day, and calls fans from opposition teams ‘bigots’ for daring to boo him at games. And he’s kindly reminded us to “remember whose lands you’re on”.
It’s this antagonism toward a nation which has bestowed one of its highest honours upon him that grates with me. I applaud indigenous peoples who try to advance themselves, and indeed causes which they are passionate about. And I celebrate with fellow Australians the effort and achievements of so many indigenous athletes both past and present.
My current sporting idol is Johnathon Thurston. He is named by many as the best rugby league player in the world, but he is simply more than that. My personal experience with Thurston has led me to believe he is someone who perhaps the “spear throwing, war cry” favouring Goodes should look to.
Thurston is a bloke who’s done more for race relations than Adam Goodes ever could. His methods are simple, respectful and above else non-divisive. From handing out headgear to young fans at each game (at both half time and full time) to always picking up his kicking tee and giving it to ball boys with a pat on the back or rub on the head thrown in. It’s these subtleties which I believe garner respect and admiration.
This writer also recalls seeing Thurston playing impromptu games of touch footy with holiday makers, children mostly, on Magnetic Island just off the Coast from his beloved Townsville. These were not media-organised photo opportunities but a genuine proud indigenous man simply living and loving life – and not jumping on a soap box to scream inequality at every chance.
There is no doubt Adam Goodes is a brilliant AFL talent. On the field his achievements are plentiful – Brownlow Medals and Premierships. Off the field however, he’s way out of form.
Marcus Paul is the host of Canberra Live 3pm weekdays on 2CC.