Over the last few months, I’ve seen a lot of posts on Facebook and Twitter talking about how ‘politics has no place in sports’. And in an ideal world – yeah, sport could just be sport; something for people to enjoy. But sadly, that’s not the world we live in. In our world, where so-called ‘fans’ hurl abuse at Indigenous players on the basis of their race, racist abuse in sport, and in society in general, is very much real.
Eddie Betts Is The Latest To Speak Out Against Racism In Sport
Today it has been reported that AFL star, Eddie Betts, has questioned his future within the sport as a result of the constant racial abuse he faces. However, he has also said that he’s willing to keep fighting if it leads to change.
In an interview with Fox Sports, Betts said that over the past six years, he has been racially abused every year online. “I had a banana thrown at me and quite frankly I’m getting sick and tired of it”.
In an Instagram post, Betts shared the latest racially motivated tweet someone had posted about him.
View this post on Instagram
If at any time anyone is wondering why we work so hard to bring attention to the importance of stamping out racism, this is it. If ever there was a time where our focus on this needs to continue more than ever, it’s now. We each have a responsibility to ourselves and each other. To continue to listen. To learn. To educate. To ignore it is to be part of the problem, to call it out is to be part of the solution. #itstopswithme #bepartofthesolution
This is just one of a number of tweets and instances of verbal abuse that Betts has faced throughout his career. In 2016, Betts also had a banana thrown at him by a Port Adelaide fan. I mean cmon, who does that?
Not The First, And Certainly Not The Last
— Kath Loughnan (@KathLoughnan) June 23, 2020
Betts is not the only sporting personality to cop this abuse. In 2015, AFL star, Adam Goodes, retired from the sport. Goodes had won the Brownlow Medal twice, won two premierships with the Sydney Swans, and was named Australian of the Year in 2014.
But still during every game, people would hurl racist abuse at him, with even a 13 year old girl calling him an ape from the stands. It was because of this that Goodes retired early from the sport that he loved.
Even when we move across to the NRL and the likes of Latrell Mitchell, it doesn’t get any better. When the NRL launched their latest ad campaign to kick off the 2020 season, it was Mitchell who copped a lot of the backlash over the ad. Simply because he was standing on a beach with the Indigenous flag draped around him.
In 2019, the NRL Integrity Unit launched an investigation into the racist online abuse of Mitchell, with many other NRL players standing with Mitchell in calling out racism.
Racist Abuse In Sports Is Not A New Concept
I continually spoke out against racism in the AFL and greater society, starting with my first professional game. I was then silenced and erased from the AFL’s and Australia’s long history of racism in sport. I was blackballed, still to this day. https://t.co/tON8qMYHDP @afl
— Joel Wilkinson (@joelwilkinson) June 19, 2020
Betts, Goodes, and Mitchell are just three examples of sporting stars who have been racially vilified in recent years. If I were to go through every incident of racist abuse in sports, even in Australia alone, this would be a very long article.
In an interview with Sky News, NSW One Nation leader, Mark Latham, said that Australia has “cheered on thousands of Indigenous and Islander footballers in the NRL and the AFL and other sports over the years … people go to watch sport, they don’t want political lectures.”
Yes, people may ‘cheer them on’ during sporting games, but will remain silent on issues of race in public discourse. But as we can see very clearly, there have been so many instances where ‘fans’ will physically and verbally abuse Indigenous sporting stars.
The point here is that this kind of thing happens all too often in Australia. Racism is a big issue that many Aussies turn a blind eye towards. But we can’t keep doing that. And in response to those who say that politics has no place in sports, speak up about the racism that perpetuates sports everyday, and help to build a world where sports really is just sports.
Image Source: Twitter (@FOXFOOTY)