What You Can Say this Weekend at the Footy Instead of Booing

mint slice

We’ve been at my parents house this week which brings an endless supply of two of my favourite things – mint slices and AFL football. There’s always a chocolate biscuit to be found in the refrigerator at Granny and Gramp’s, just ask my children they’re experts at tracking them down. When it comes to the football, after years of attending country games and making the trek to the city my parents were early adaptors into the world of cable tv and Fox Footy. Only this week my father and I discussed (much to the horror of those around us) the abounding joy of watching a game live and then coming home to re-watch the same game on the telly. This is our football nirvana.

If you’re reading this from outside of Australia (from last count that’s about 30,000 of you *waves hello*) you may not have heard about Adam Goodes. You also may not care about a game called Australian Rules Football *I actually winced when I typed that last sentence* but that’s okay, I get it, you have your own stuff, but you may be interested in what’s going on in Australia right now particularly if you’re an expat and have an opinion on racism in Australia. On the flip side if you are in Australia right now it’s highly likely you’ve stopped reading because you’ve read enough on the subject as it’s on every front page, on every screen and all over social media – but just incase, here it is.

On the surface it’s all about booing. I know, it sounds crazy doesn’t it. People at the football boo, they have for years, although I’m not sure if people who really know about football boo. I have a sneaking suspicion the booing is for people who aren’t really sure of the rules and don’t know what else to do. People who jump in with the crowd because it feels good to be part of conspiratorial decision. You know, like people who have joined some sort of a cult and haven’t quite learnt the words to the chants.

Growing up I spent many of my Saturdays at country footy with my Dad and I can’t remember a lot of boos. I can remember a lot of “HOLDING THE BALL YA MUG” which was usually condensed down to a “BAAAAAAAAAAALL” if the decision was made when you were half way though your pie with sauce. I remember hearing the cry of  “Man Up” which had nothing to do with being a man and everything to do with finding a man. My all time favourite thing to hear though was from a man call Paul who was the father of a guy I went to school with. Paul had a thick Italian accent and he LOVED his football, he was passionate about it and everytime he got cross with the umpire he’d yell out the same thing in thick singalong Italian accent “YOO BLUDDY DOHNKEY” and then turn to his appreciative crowd in front of the club rooms for the giggle factor.

Back to Adam Goodes. If you know AFL you know that when it comes to football Adam Goodes is beyond brilliant. A true champion of the game. I could list all of the achievements here but you can go to Wikipedia for that. Adam Goodes is also a former Australian of the Year, that’s right, he’s not only brilliant at playing sport he’s a role model, a leader, and a spokesperson. He currently holds the record for the most games played for an indigenous player. He can be infuriating to watch if he’s playing against your side, infuriating because he’s annoyingly good and incredibly effective. My team, Port Adelaide (*don’t hold that against me – I know we’re a club you either love or hate*) played his team about a month ago and I was sure we were in with a chance until Adam Goodes pretty much decided he was going to carry his side to victory on his own.

For the longest time there’s been a discussion on the booing of Adam Goodes – this isn’t a new thing, those of us who are addicted to listening to football podcasts and watching football television shows have listened to the debate for years. We’ve heard the ridiculous justification along with the understandable mortification. Both the booing and the discussions about the booing make it onto the running sheets of football talk shows regularly. Are they booing because they don’t like him or are they booing because they’re being racist?

Whatever it is, it’s pathetic.

If you boo you’re a unimaginative tosser.  When it comes to calling out at the footy we want quick witted banter. If you’re unable to do this – please just watch the game and leave it to the men and women who entertain. Here’s a few I’ve heard recently (mainly directed at the umpires).

“I’d agree with that but then we’d both be wrong”

“Somewhere out there is a tree tirelessly producing oxygen so you can breathe. I think you owe it an apology”.

“I thought only horses slept standing up”

“That’s why they shouldn’t let the umpires date the players”

And my personal fave after an umpire slipped over…

“Get off your knees you’re blowing the game”

Whether you think any of the above is funny or not what’s not funny is that Adam Goodes won’t be playing football this weekend. We’re all going to miss out on watching him play because he’s finally had enough. He’s been bullied off the ground. Personally I find it embarrassing for Australia but I’m hoping that all of this discussion is making people realise that the booing has to stop, it’s not clever, it’s not funny, it’s not a part of the game, it’s just pathetic and it has to stop.

I’m off to the Port Adelaide/Saint Kilda game this Sunday, I’m looking forward to listening to the banter, enjoying a beer, and watching my team put in 100% for four quarters of footy *fingers and toes crossed*. On Saturday afternoon I’ll watch the Sydney/Adelaide game knowing that something is missing – the magic of Adam Goodes and a little bit of the shine from our much touted multi-cultural Australia – I hope we can get them both back soon.

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