The AFL’s Booing Outrage Is All Well And Good But It’s Four Years Too Late

Following the conclusion of yesterday’s intense Anzac Day clash between Essendon and Collingwood, Anzac Medalist Scott Pendelbury was showered with a hail of boos from Essendon fans, whipped into an incensed fury at a string of contentious umpiring decisions late in the game that had mild adverse influence on proceedings. Immediately, coach Nathan Buckley admonished the braying crowd, asserting “shame on anyone that booed a champion.

It’s a fine statement. It’s lovely he’s taking a stand. But where the living piss was something like that four years ago when Adam Goodes was getting howled out of stadiums?

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The absurd hypocrisy of AFL figures rushing to clutch pearls over a surge of booing related to players the game deems as “champions” is a scene to behold. Beginning last week with Gary Ablett – who drew the ire of fans after dropping a like on Israel Folau‘s deeply religious and phenomenally homophobic Instagram post – and continuing now to Pendelbury, the AFL seems keen to somehow stamp this behaviour out, vowing to “take action” if the booing of figures like Ablett continues. Just how in the blue hell they’ll do that remains to be seen. Tossing 40,000 people out of a stadium simultaneously? Handing out mandatory muzzles at the gate? Singling out one offender and sewing their lips shut like Abe’s Oddysee to send a warning to everyone else?

In a post-match press conference, Buckley doubled down on his own comments, boldly claiming he’d admonish Collingwood fans if the roles were reversed.

I hope that I would’ve been strong enough if an Essendon player had won the medal in that exact same moment and our Collingwood faithful had responded that way.

I hope I would have been strong enough to say the same thing and I think I would have.

Buckley was coach of Collingwood in 2015, and he sure as shit didn’t do anything then. No one did. Adam Goodes got routinely brayed at for years over the apparently egregious slight of being proud of his Indigenous heritage, and it didn’t garner a fraction of the pants-pissing, knee-jerk reaction from league figureheads that these most recent incidents have.

So you’ve got to wonder, between Gary Ablett (probably a huge homophobe), Scott Pendelbury (victim of circumstance), and Adam Goodes (black man), what’s the difference?

You won’t burn through many brain cells figuring that one out, I tell you what.