ADAM Goodes does not owe us an explanation.
The Greater Western Victoria Rebels' export has sparked debate and speculations in football circles with reports on Tuesday morning he had rejected an AFL Hall of Fame induction honour this year. This was an offer made by unanimous agreement immediately as he became eligible, five years after his retirement.
Essendon great and Hall of Fame member Tim Watson, speaking on SEN Breakfast radio said Goodes' decision shocked and saddened him. Watson said he thought time would have healed wounds enough for Goodes to appreciate what he had earned and achieved in the game.
Watson's co-host, Melbourne great Garry Lyon, said only by speaking with Goodes personally would he be able to properly explain.
But this is a time when no words can make a powerful impact.
Goodes, who was drafted from our under-18 talent program in 1997, built a 372-game AFL career with Sydney Swans, including two premierships, two Brownlow Medals and four all-Australian honours.
Ferocious fan behaviour - led by booing that reached a howling pitch - and a lack of effective action and leadership from the AFL against this led to the early end to Goodes' football career.
The impacts in these final years - the booing, the public shaming, hysteria at Goodes' cultural expression in a goal celebration - were explored in two documentaries, each released two years ago. Stan Grant's The Australian Dream featured Goodes' voice and that of controversial figures in this period, such as then-Collingwood president and broadcaster Eddie McGuire.
The latter makes for particularly uncomfortable viewing but offer a path forward, promoting awareness and education.
Goodes has been a humble leader, not one for the "adulation" Lyon and Watson say he deserves - a public adulation they continue to enjoy on the back of their own decorated playing careers.
Goodes used his platform to promote opportunity, education and health for Indigenous peoples, particularly youth, and has remained proud of his legacy in western Victoria with the Rebels, whose best and fairest trophy in named in his honour.
In his latter career, Goodes used his platform as one of the game's most decorated players to call out racism only to be crucified for it. The bigger issues in our game and our society became muddied by mob-like cries for justifying horrendous behaviour and a league apology came years too late.
As sporting fans we can pat ourselves on the back for a great Indigenous celebratory round and AFL jumpers sharing AFL stories and culture - and these are incredibly important tools to bridging gaps in a shared understanding - but we all need to demand more than just the flashy stuff in our game.
We all must consider what else can we do in our game, from the top to the grassroots, to ensure an inclusive space and to stamp out discrimination.
Sport is a powerful tool to lead change.
Goodes' AFL Hall of Fame induction offer is undoubtedly a deserved honour and, as AFL chairman Richard Goyder has said, only Goodes can decide when the right time might be for him to reconnect to the game.
"Adam remains a great champion and leader of our game who has given more to our sport than he received in return," Goyder said.
There are no easy answers or quick fixes.
Time will not heal wounds but our actions can, at the very least, lead important change. We need to feel uncomfortable.
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