Following the footy can be draining as you ride the highs and lows of your team’s fortunes. But there’s one low AFL fans shouldn’t have to endure every week: Sam Newman.
Every Thursday night, when thousands tune in to the Footy Show to find out the team selections for the weekend games, this Geelong Grammar educated Tory millionaire interferes with our enjoyment of the night.
Why should we have to put up with this bigoted moron? He mocks the poor, the unemployed, the disabled, and chastises women, gay people and non-whites.
Like thousands of AFL fans I was nauseated at Newman’s latest crap – a blatantly homophobic attack on Michael Sam, the first openly gay man to be drafted to the US National Football League.
Like many people I thought it was wonderful to watch the joy displayed by Michael Sam and his boyfriend at the news of Sam’s successful selection – and even more delightful to watch as they kissed and covered themselves with celebratory cake and cream.
Sporting commentary can be full of clichés and hyperbole, but this truly was a great sporting moment.
Newman obviously didn’t feel the same way about it– and he made sure everyone knew it. To Newman, the gay affection was an “annoyingly gratuitous act”. But thankfully sections of the studio audience booed him and the hosts were forced to shut him up and rightfully label his comments homophobic.
However it’s pretty sick that, more often than not, Newman’s bigoted performances go unchallenged. In 1999 he blacked up his face to impersonate Aboriginal footballer Nicky Winmar. At the time Winmar was leading a campaign against racism in the AFL.
Aboriginal players were copping it from both sides of the fence. But don’t think for a second that Newman is only racist to Aboriginal people – he’s likened a Malaysian man to a monkey, “not long out of the forest”.
His sexism is equally foul. In an appalling display Newman paraded around on the Footy Show stage with a mannequin model with a picture of football journalist Caroline Wilson’s face stapled on. Newman stripped the mannequin a number of times whilst “experimenting”, to use his words, with different outfits. It was a grotesque simulation of sexual abuse
But Newman’s reactionary attitudes are at their worst when, every week, he heads out onto the streets in the “street talk” segment of the show. This entitled rich prick singles out the mentally ill, mocks the poor and socially marginalised and pokes fun at working class culture.
The segment constantly depicts the residents of working class suburbs like Reservoir, Deer Park or Frankston as hopeless idiots.
I love the passion of debate and discussion that the football brings out in people. I love sitting in the stands yelling and screaming with thousands of others. I love participating in the detailed analysis with scores of others on a crowded train, bus or tram after a match about what should or shouldn’t have happened. I love the shenanigans between supporters of rival teams.
But it’d be so much better if we could have footy without bigots like Newman being paid to intervene and shape the culture of the game. Footy would be even better without him.