Issue 14
Monday, 28 August 2017
Charles Darwin University
Associate Professor Chris Hallinan
Associate Professor Chris Hallinan

Goodes booing a ‘covert form of vilification’

By Patrick Nelson

Many of the arguments used to justify criticisms of AFL star Adam Goodes were based in racism, a Charles Darwin University academic says after examining debate surrounding the athlete in the latter stages of his playing career.

Northern Institute researcher Associate Professor Chris Hallinan said the now retired Sydney Swans star and former Australian of the Year was booed mercilessly during the 2015 season.

“He was represented as a polarising figure in the tabloid press for calling out his racial vilification and for showing pride in his Aboriginality and Indigenous culture,” Dr Hallinan said.

“The booing drew extensive commentary, ranging from support to abject hostility, in the public domain.”

Dr Hallinan said some argued that the booing of Goodes was not racist along the lines of “booing is part of the game” and “it’s the man who is booed, which has nothing to do with his race”.

“But these and several other justifications contain flawed assumptions and the distorted logics of race and racism,” Dr Hallinan said.

“We argue that the booing of Goodes was defended on the assumptions of racial neutrality. Those who boo do not ‘see’ race, therefore the booing of Goodes is objective of race.”

Dr Hallinan and lead author Dr Stella Coram draw on Critical Race Theory to make their case in an article published in Australian Aboriginal Studies Journal.

“We contend that booing represents a covert reworking of the racial vilification of Indigenous athletes and that their vilification is but one form of racism.

“Our study highlights the historical context within which Indigenous athletes are racially discriminated against,” he said.

Journal online: W: Australian Aboriginal Studies