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American Sports Fans Shocked by Aussie AFL Documentary

Adam Goodes in full flight.

An editorial from Brook Kilpatrick, AFANA's staff member in Adelaide, with contributions by Chris Kowald, in Perth. 

American sports fans have reacted to “The Australian Dream” after ESPN recently aired the Australian AFL documentary that focuses on the racism encountered by Sydney Swans legend Adam Goodes. 

US website “Brinkwire” has reported an “outpouring of support” for Goodes after viewers learned of the “incessant taunting and booing” that was directed at Goodes throughout the tail end of his career. (https://en.brinkwire.com/news/americans-claim-racism-is-worse-in-australia-after-espn-screens-the-adam-goodes-documentary/ )

The cutting quote that some Americans claim racism is “worse in Australia” is certainly cause for discussion, and it cannot be denied that indigenous Australian AFL players such as Adam Goodes have experienced the worst of it at various stages throughout their career. Australian football greats such as Maurice Rioli, Phil and Jim Krakouer, Nicky Winmar, and current player Eddie Betts have all spoken about the racism they have encountered throughout their football lives, with some such as Betts, actively being involved in campaigns to educate with a view to eradicating such abhorrent behavior. Betts recently called out a person who posted an image of a chimpanzee on his Twitter page. Winmar recently forced an apology from three Melbourne journalists who claimed Winmar's iconic gesture was not related to racial issues.

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AFL Hall Of Fame for 2020

Black playing against Essendon

The AFL began announcing its annual Hall of Fame inductions at the beginning of June. Due to the pandemic, the usual gala ceremony could not be held. The announcements were made gradually over a period of days and everything had to be done remotely. Brisbane premiership teammates Jonathan Brown and Simon Black were inducted, joining fellow teammates Michael Voss (2011), Jason Akermanis (2015), and Nigel Lappin (2016). Their admissions reinforce Brisbane's status as one of the most dominant teams of the early 2000s. Beloved St Kilda stalwart Lenny Hayes was another inductee. Also inducted were two greats of the Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL: John Albey and Greg Phillips; as well as former Eagle ruckman Dean Cox and beloved commentator Dennis Cometti. Coaching great John Kennedy Sr was elevated to legend status. Kennedy was one of the inaugural inductees as a coach in 1996. AFL boss Gil McLachlan visited Kennedy and his wife at their home to inform Kennedy of his elevation.

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AFL Getting International Attention

American Mason Cox at a Ruck Contest

Before and during the opening round of the AFL, footy was getting attention internationally. This was due to the AFL continuing to play while so many other sports were on hold. Links to the various articles are below. While some make only brief references to footy, others are more in depth with stories about more American fans discovering footy with games played despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Articles often included brief outlines of the rules. Several journalists have already become fans and will continue to watch when the league recommences. Some of the articles have fan or Twitter comments, or video clips.

During the televised broadcast of the game between Melbourne and West Coast, commentator Gerard Healy asked if someone could explain for American viewers why it is only a point when the ball hits the goal post but no point when it hits the behind post. One of his colleagues said it was just the rules and that is how it had always been. (Click on "Read more >" to see the links.)

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Four Free Agents Find New Homes

Brand Tackles Opponent

It is currently the free agency period for the AFL. This period runs until November 22 and allows clubs to pick up delisted free agent players. In late October, soon after they were delisted, Wylie Buzza (Geelong to Port Adelaide), Jack Newnes (St Kilda to Carlton), Kaiden Brand (Hawthorn to Sydney), Sam Gray (Port Adelaide to Sydney), Harley Bennell (Fremantle to Melbourne) signed with new clubs.

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McCartin Out for 2020 and More Roster Changes Around the AFL

McCartin Handballs

St Kilda's Paddy McCartin has ruled himself out of the 2020 season due to ongoing concussion issues. McCartin, 23, was the number one selection in the 2014 draft but has played just 35 games since debuting in 2015. He has suffered eight concussions since 2014, the last coming in a 2019 preseason game. Former Saint Nick Dal Santo was a boundary commentator during that game. When the news broke that McCartin would not play in 2020. Dal Santo recalled the incident on SEN Radio, saying it appeared to be a "light brush" of the head, but with McCartin's history, it was enough to put him in a bad way. He has been unable to run or train since then. 

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Kieren Jack Takes Swan Song

Kieren Jack Lays a Tackle

Just ahead of Round 23, Sydney midfielder Kieren Jack, 32, announced his retirement. Hailing from rugby background, he was invited to play Australian football for his school at the age of 11. He was drafted by the Swans as a rookie in 2005 and soon emerged as one of the elite midfielders in the AFL. He was appointed co-captain alongside fellow retiree Jarrad McVeigh in 2013. In Round 5 this year, Jack became just the ninth Swan to play 250 games.

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Teague Gets Carlton Job

Nick Nudges Opponent

Caretaker Coach David Teague has been appointed senior coach at Carlton. Teague, 38, took over for Brendon Bolton and has won five of the past seven games through Round 21. Teague also had the support of several senior players, including co-captain Patrick Cripps. The club approached several candidates, including Hawthorn's Alistair Clarkson and Port assistant Michael Voss but opted for Teague.

Teague played 83 games for North Melbourne and Carlton between 2004 and 2007. After retiring as a player, he embarked on a successful career in coaching, serving as senior coach of the VFL side Northern Bullants from 2008 to 2010, then as an assistant at West Coast, St Kilda, and Adelaide, before returning to Carlton as the forward coach ahead of the 2018 season.

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McVeigh Retires and Bennell Surgery

McVeigh Goals in Game 300

Sydney stalwart Jarrad McVeigh has announced he would retire at the end of the season. McVeigh, 34, has played just five games this season due to quad, hamstring, and calf injuries. His last AFL game was Round 12. He was on the comeback trail through the NEAFL but strained a calf. He is still hopeful of a final farewell game in Round 23. McVeigh also thought of playing on in 2020, but the latest setback told him otherwise.

McVeigh was drafted in 2002 and has been a key to the team's recent success of 15 finals series and five Grand Finals. His 324 games is just one shy of former teammate Jude Bolton (323) and he is just one of four Swans to play 300 games, the others being Adam Goodes (372) and Michael O'Loughlin (303). And he will go down as one of the most decorated and influential players in the club's history.

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Dockers Survive Swans Scare

Reid and Walters Contest Football

The Fremantle Dockers defeated the Sydney Swans by the smallest of margins to keep Fremantle's slim chance of making the finals alive. The Swans bowed out of the finals race last week, a rare event for the Swans. It is even rarer for it to happen with six matches to play. The Dockers' season was hanging on by the thread of statistical possibility, but it was the Swans who played as if they were desperate to make the finals. The Dockers played like a team that finally got desperate.

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Two More Out The Door

Heath Grundy

Under vastly contrasting circumstances, Swan defender Heath Grundy and North Melbourne coach Brad Scott have departed.

Sydney defender Heath Grundy has been forced to retire due to a debilitating back injury. Grundy initially suffered the injury during a preseason game and was hoping to play this season. However , the injury failed to respond to treatment and it began to affect his life away from the game. Whether or not he will require surgery will be determined in the next few weeks. As Grundy explained, "I couldn't do what I wanted to do at home ... I was struggling to get in and out of the car and I couldn't get my son in and out of the cot ... it starts dragging you down every day and that's where it got too."

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