Adam Goodes is a brilliant footballer at the top of his game. He knows all about racism because he grew up in Australia with black skin. The old saying 'sticks and stones can break your bones but names can never hurt me' is a lie. Cruel words cut deep, and in some cases, with fatal results.
Goodes said he never stood up to the kids at school when they called him a monkey and an ape, but knows that he should have. And when a 13 year old Collingwood supporter sitting in the front row at the MCG on Friday night called him an "ape", he heard it loud and clear and this time, he wasn't going to let it go. He stopped the game and pointed her out to security who led her away to the sounds of boos from the audience. She spent two hours with police and security.
Goodes works with troubled indigenous youth in detention centres. He and Michael O'Loughlin have started an indigenous football academy and in 2009 launched the Goodes O'Loughlin Foundation (www.go-foundation.org) aimed at empowering the next generation of indigenous role models in all walks of life.
Goodes was so upset by the insult, he left the field straight after the game and went to the dressing rooms instead of joining his team on the field to celebrate their win. "That's what hurt me so bad....when I turned around, I just saw this young face.....and it was just sad......that's why I had to leave the arena, it just broke my heart" he said.
"It's not a witch hunt" he said "I don't want people to go after this young girl, we've just got to help educate society better so it doesn't happen again."
It's been twenty years since Nicky Winmar reacted to a foul torrent of verbal abuse on the field. He lifted his jumper and pointed to his black skin and yelled "I'm black and I'm proud to be black."
So what's changed? Not much.
Edit May 5, 2013: After Collingwood president Eddie McGuire made a public show of being outraged by the young girl who called Adam Goodes an “ape” at the game on Friday night, he suggested on radio that Goodes should be used to promote the musical King Kong.