Adam Goodes is a successful Aboriginal footballer who plays for the Sydney Swans. He is also Australian of the Year. The National Australia Day Council said he was chosen "for his leadership and advocacy in the fight against racism both on the sporting field and within society - a stance which has won him the admiration and respect of people around Australia."
Adam Goodes knows all about racism because he grew up in Australia with black skin. The old saying "sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt me" is a lie, they do. Cruel words cut deep.
Goodes point to his black skin
Goodes said he never stood up to kids at school when they called him an ape or a monkey, but knows that he should have. And when a 13 year old Collingwood supporter sitting in the front row at the MCG on a Friday night last year called him an "ape", he heard it loud and clear and this time, he wasn't going to let it go. He pointed her out to security who led her away to the sounds of boos from the audience.
Goodes was so upset by the insult, he didn't join 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 left the arena, it just broke my heart" he said.
"But it's not a witch hunt, 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."
Eddie McGuire appeared on Channel 9's Today Show on May 30 last year, desperately trying to justify what he said on radio - that Adam Goodes should be used to promote the stage show King Kong.
Channel 9 reporter Carl Stefanovic tried to help by saying he'd known Eddie for a long time and knew he wasn't a racist but it was a lame attempt and viewers saw it for what it was - a racist slur that came out of the mouth of the President of the Collingwood Football Club. The club held an emergency meeting and some thought Eddie might get a kick up the backside but surprise, surprise, the board gave Eddie "their full support."
The most embarrassing thing about this affair was how McGuire made such a big show of being outraged when the 13 year old called him an ape. He fell over himself apologising to Goodes on radio and television and then we discover that he and the young girl share the same mindset about Aboriginals.
Collingwood Football Club promised counselling sessions for racial vilification but until people continue to get thrown out for calling players ugly names, nothing will change. The young girl was booed when she was escorted out by security, so it's clear the majority don't like it either.
Goodes has a difficult job ahead. He has to try to educate an uneducated minority that racial taunts hurt, not only on the footy field, but everywhere. "It's not just about taking responsibility for your own actions, but speaking to your mates when they take out their anger on their loved ones, minority groups, or make racist remarks" he said.