Sport, racism no mix

Geelong Advertiser - - YPOUR SAY -

THAT racist ep­i­thets are still, even rarely, be­ing hurled at Abo­rig­i­nal play­ers in Gee­long footy leagues is a sit­u­a­tion that needs to be stamped out.

Dou­glas Hill, 67, who shouted at Gee­long Am­a­teur player Baden Dodd that he was a “f---ing black c---” is prob­a­bly just an id­iot rather than a card­car­ry­ing racist.

But that’s prob­a­bly cold com­fort to Mr Dodd, who likely felt his words like dag­gers.

Sport is the great equaliser. Even the worst racist will find their il­log­i­cal be­liefs be­ing shaken by a dis­play of elite ath­letic prow­ess by a mem­ber of a dif­fer­ent race.

Adolf Hitler’s white supremacism was shown up when African Amer­i­can ath­lete Jesse Owens com­peted in the 1936 Olympics, held in Nazi Ger­many, and won four gold medals.

Polly Farmer’s legacy still looms large in this city, not just for the dis­plays of skill he turned on as an Abo­rig­i­nal foot­ball player in the ’60s, but for the dig­ni­fied life he led off the field.

Since Polly, this city, par­tic­u­larly re­cently, has em­braced in­dige­nous Cats play­ers with the same ar­dour as the rest.

So it is sad that any­one is still throw­ing deroga­tory words about race around.

The sil­ver lin­ing of this story is not just that Dou­glas Hill sees the er­ror of his ways and is un­likely to re­of­fend (un­less he wants an­other $2500 fine), it’s that fans of both clubs — Torquay and the Am­mos — tried to con­vince him to shut up.

And this is a much bet­ter an­swer than the blunt in­stru­ment of the state or the ju­di­ciary or hate crime laws be­ing used. These things, rightly or wrongly, can make the ag­gres­sors feel like ag­grieved vic­tims and don’t give them room to change their be­haviour.

“Pull your head in, mate,” said to a spec­ta­tor be­ing racist is a much bet­ter op­tion.

None of us should tol­er­ate ugly racial com­ments at any level of sport or any level of so­ci­ety. We of­ten rem­i­nisce about the good old days but overt and ca­sual racism is some­thing we need to rel­e­gate to the bad old days.

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