My name is Chris and I am a booer.
An unthinking and naïve booer, not a malicious one, but a booer all the same.
I didn’t go to Subiaco Oval on Sunday with the intention of booing Adam Goodes. Truth be told I hadn’t given it any thought prior to the game. I was aware, in a general sense, of the 2015 phenomenon of opposition crowds booing the dual Brownlow Medallist and Australian of the Year for vague and possibly suspect reasons, but on the walk to the ground my thoughts were more focused on the late withdrawal of Buddy and how fortunate our depleted backline was to be facing a Swans forward line without Franklin and Tippett.
When the booing commenced, early in the game, I decided to join the chorus. I don’t particularly like Goodes as a player, having seen him occasionally staging for frees, throwing little elbows and complaining to umpires. None of that would ordinarily cause me to boo a player on every possession, but since everyone else was doing it I did not see the harm in adding my voice.
I now see the harm.
It was evident when John Longmire explained that Lewis Jetta’s war dance in the final term was borne out of his frustration at the treatment of a respected teammate and his desire to “stick up for a mate”. It was evident when my own club’s chief executive, coach, Brownlow Medalist and star ruckman all said, separately, that the booing needed to be stopped. It was evident when it emerged that my voice had, albeit unbeknown to me, accompanied that of another spectator disgracefully and inexcusably telling Goodes he should “go back to the zoo”.
It was evident well before the news that Goodes would require some time away from football to deal with the effect the whole issue was having on him, but that news certainly rammed home the point. Too often we thoughtlessly treat players as objects for our entertainment, forgetting that they are of course functioning human beings with the same range of emotions and individual personality traits as everybody else.
I have tried to identify the reasons why I decided to boo Goodes. Basically, it was for no better reason than mildly disliking him as a player, the fact that plenty of others were already doing it, and a fairly short-sighted view that as a paying spectator I should be able to boo whoever I want. None of those represents anything approaching a compelling reason, and I suspect that none of the people who have booed Goodes, or Jobe Watson for that matter, throughout this season could identify any particularly compelling reason justifying them doing so.
As has become clear, there are plenty of compelling reasons not to.
Goodes’ career is drawing to a close, but I strongly hope that the fates will bring him back to Subiaco in this year’s finals series so that I, and the rest of the Eagles faithful, can go some small way to atoning for our behaviour by resolving to refrain from the incessant, needless, and now obviously harmful booing.