RACISM can be defined as a hatred or intolerance of another race or races. It carries the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
To racially vilify someone means to revile them with abusive or defamatory language because of their race.
How can these two negative concepts have any place in sport?
They shouldn’t but unfortunately they do.
The AFL has been proactive with their racial vilification policy refusing to tolerate racism at the elite level of the game.
Just last week the NTFA moved to make their position clear on the same issue with president Ian Morrison saying the association and its 19 member clubs have united to publicly condemn abusively disparaging comments and actions at local football matches.
“Unfortunately this year we have been reminded that an element of society still displays an ignorance in behaviour that we as a professional body cannot ignore,” Morrison said.
“Hence we are making a stance publicly denouncing vilification and discrimination in any form.”
The NTFA will impose greater penalties for players and officials not just around game suspension but also with a focus on education and said they are working on imposing penalties on supporters found to be guilty of racial, religious or sexual vilification.
He said offensive comments at matches, no matter their context or intention, must stop.
Worthy sentiments and actions from the NTFA to stamp out an unsavoury element of society and sport that sadly continues to exist and rear its ugly head.
Just ask some local indigenous footballers and their families.
Former NTFA player and coach and now North Launceston assistant coach Brett Mansell wanted to highlight the fact that racism and racial vilification continue to affect Indigenous players in Launceston and elsewhere in the state.
“I think from the community perspective the NTFA’s stance is a positive and hats off to them for doing that,” Mansell said.
“It’s just sad and disappointing that this sort of thing is still rearing its head.
“My father had it worse than me and I would have thought that my children would have been able to evade this sort of stuff but it doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment.
“The question is with education the way it is these days where this stuff comes from – is it a parenting issue or is it stuff that they are hearing at home because you don’t see it in the media or on TV shows anymore depicting racist actions or ideals?
“It is a bit bewildering from our community to understand why this is still occurring.
“I had someone say to me the other day that it is mainly from crowds and not players anymore and that’s probably a fair call but crowds are still families of the players or going to the same schools so you wonder why it is still happening and as a community we’ve had enough of it.
“Enough is enough – when is it going to stop?”
Mansell said up and coming North Launceston talent Tarryn Thomas was already being affected by racism in his football.
He said Thomas was racially vilified in the football environment and the incident which is being investigated by the AFL had taken a toll on one of the state’s rising stars.
Mansell’s son Rhyan is a St Patricks College year 10 student who plays football with North Launceston and had encountered racism in social situations.
“People have been racist toward me in the past and it really hurts me,” the 16-year-old said.
“It’s mostly outside of sport but it is really upsetting and I think better education at school and with families is needed to stop it.”
Tarryn is already being touted as a future AFL draftee and the quietly spoken Northern Bombers onballer and Prospect High student said being involved in a vilification issue as a 16-year-old had taken a toll on him.
“It has had a big effect on me and my family and upsets us a lot,” he said.
“I think I handled it pretty good and have talked to Brett and my family about how to deal with it because you encounter it in sport and at school which is disappointing.”
His dad Jason said his son’s racial vilification issue had affected the whole family.
“It’s affected Tarryn mentally and physically and he’s been sick having to deal with it all because all his mind is focused on his football and then he has to deal with this,” he said.
Another Launceston indigenous footballer Jhdara Jones is studying at Melbourne’s Scotch College and playing TAC Cup football with Oakleigh Chargers.
The 18-year-old former Riverside High student played state under-16 football and with Prospect Hawks before moving to Melbourne for school.
“I had to go to the tribunal once in under-15 football with Prospect Hawks after racial vilification in one of the finals matches,” he said.
“I haven’t encountered it much in Melbourne and I think when you get to the higher level of football there is a lot more education and people are a lot more aware of the consequences of those actions.
“I think you have to start in early education and in family at home and instil right from wrong in a person’s values.”
Mansell said racism and racial vilification must be stamped out.
“When my old man was growing up in the 60s it was rife but when I was a teenager in the 80s and 90s it was much better and nothing like that.
“You would have thought that this sort of thing wouldn’t be happening now but it is starting to rear its head again even though there has been this big thing with education in the schools. I wonder if it is someone in a crowd saying these things would do it if Cyril Rioli was standing beside them?”