Embracing cultures a reason to celebrate

OPINION: ONE really annoying aspect of sport is an ardent fan of one footy code bagging another game simply because of one-upmanship.

This could be construed as ignorance but let's be kind and call it devotion.

There is a place in our Australian culture for all the footy codes - league, union, rules, soccer and the different forms of touch. And, as an oldie, I'm just happy to see kids outdoors playing any sport, rather than hiding behind the proliferation of electronic gadgetry that seems to be warping so many young minds.

But in view of the controversy whipped up in AFL recently over the booing of Adam Goodes, maybe some codes can learn from others? And while certainly not a clean skin where racism is concerned, rugby league is regarded as an all-inclusive sport and the code has openly embraced many cultures.

This weekend the NRL celebrates its Indigenous Round, just as the AFL did earlier in the season. Unfortunately during that round when Goodes mimed a spear thrower after scoring a goal, he was loudly booed - presumably by Carlton fans at that game.

If Greg Inglis scores against the Sea Eagles at Brookvale tonight and recreates his very clever goanna impersonation, odds are he will be cheered. And there are likely to be many similar indigenous celebrations in Darwin tomorrow night when the Eels have taken their clash with the Panthers.

Specifically-designed indigenous jerseys will be worn by the Broncos, Cowboys, Sharks, Eels, Panthers and Storm, and for the first time the NRL referees will don an indigenous uniform. And replacing the zero on the 40-metre lines at all grounds will be the indigenous RECOGNISE symbol.

Young indigenous kids will lead teams on to the field, indigenous teams will participate in half-time games and indigenous players will toss the coin. The theme will be all encompassing ... and genuine.

But while the Indigenous Round is a relatively new focus for rugby league, the recognition of indigenous players in the game is legendary.

The great Arthur Beetson was the first indigenous captain of any Australian sporting team, and in May this year seven indigenous players represented the Kangaroos - a record number for any Australian sporting team. And two of them - Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston - join Justin Hodges as proud indigenous NRL club captains.

Hopefully this is not seen as one-upmanship but rather rugby league holding indigenous players in higher esteem than other codes.

YES, yes, yes: Optimistically, Dave Taylor will find his niche in France next season. He is one of rugby league's greatest wasted talents.

NO, no, no: The non-suspension of Kane Evans for a blatant and deliberate shoulder charge last weekend is simply mind-boggling.



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