Racism – deeply entrenched in Australian psyche
Veteran sports commentator Charlie King has said there is now an opportunity for people to change their views once the documentary about the racial vilification of Adam Goodes airs to the general public.
Mr King was commentating when Mr Goodes was being racially vilified and said he “wasn’t surprised to see the reaction.”
“What bothered me more than anything else was the heavyweights of the media industry that came out to condemn Adam [who] never had an understanding of what the damage was, [what it] was actually doing to him,” Mr King said.
Mr King said he tried to educate people that the infamous spear throwing dance was just that—a dance.
“This is just an expression of someone saying what they want to say,” Mr King said.
“People like Sam Newman, I was disgusted with his comments, and Eddie McGuire, I thought they were out of line.”
Mr King said he was also disappointed in the AFL’s lack of response and refusal to label the issue as racial vilification.
“We as Aboriginal people know that it is racially motivated. We know exactly what that sort of reaction is,” Mr King said.
“If a white guy did a dance after he kicked a goal, everyone thinks, ‘Look at the joy, how happy he is, what a wonderful performance!’ But when an Aboriginal person does it then it’s all ‘out of line’ and it’s ‘unacceptable.’ That’s what bothered me then and does now.”
Mr King said there will no doubt be a public reaction to The Final Quarter and not all of it will positive.
“There will still be people calling foul and saying that it’s all wrong,” Mr King said.
“[But] I think there will be a shift.”
The commentator said already he has seen a change in clubs such as Richmond Football Club, whose women’s team recently put a call through to Mr King to see if they could spend some time in Indigenous communities during a trip to Darwin.
“There’s opportunity now to make a change and this could be the impetus behind it.”
Speaking about the AFL’s apology to Mr Goodes last week, Mr King said he believes the AFL understand how important Indigenous Australians are to the sport.
“I’m happy with what they did. Gillon McLachlan was brave and strong,” Mr King said.
However, Mr King did acknowledge that the AFL should have apologised a long time ago.
“[The AFL] shouldn’t have needed the film to make them [apologise]. But having said that, if the film can change the attitude of the AFL, it can then change the attitude of the broader Australian community,” Mr King said.
Mr King said The Final Quarter won’t end racism.
“We’re still going to get racism – it’s so deeply entrenched in the Australian psyche,” Mr King said.
“This is a battle that we will struggle with for years to come.”
The commentator believes Adam Goodes has a role to play in these next steps toward tackling racism in sport.
“I know it’s unfair…[but] he was Australian of the Year, a giant amongst us, he needs to join forces with people like Michael Long and Nicky Winmar.”
Mr King said Mr Goodes and other Indigenous players need to stand up, be strong and not let the issue go now that it’s back in the public eye.
“Now’s the time for us to start doing some strong education.”
For Mr King, there is one thing he would love to see.
“This would make my heart sing. To see [Adam Goodes] walk out on the MCG on Grand Final Day and stand there and bow to the people and put his hands in the air … make the statement, stop the racism.”
Mr King said it’s time to tackle racism in sport once and for all.
“The impetus is there. Let’s drive it home. Let’s make a change so the world our children inherit is a much better world than the one we’ve lived in.”
By Hannah Cross