Racism in Australian Sports Essay Paper 8 pages

Racism in Australian Sports

History of racism in Australia

Self-identity when approached from the concept of sociological perspective identifies it with a reciprocal relationship between the self and society. The influence of self to the society is through the actions of individuals, hence creating networks, groups, institutions and organizations. On the other hand the society has influence to self by its ways of shared language as well as meaning that makes one to take the role of others, participate in social interaction, and reflect oneself as an object. The core of selfhood has been constituted through the later process of reflexivity. Since the self appears in and is reflective of society, the understanding of self in terms of sociological approach and its part reveals that we as well have to understand the society where the self is acting and we should always remember in this event that the action of self is many a times in a social context in which other self exist.


Racism in sport has been an issue in Australia even though all Australians of various color, race as well as ethnic origin had united as one in their participation in cheering home Cathy Freeman to gold in the final of the Sydney Olympic Games 400 metres. Sports and sporting forms the ultimate cross-cultural mixing pot in Australia. It has established platform where respect for ability and the camaraderie of teamwork overcomes intolerance and exclusion, where the people cheer their champions without considering the color, of the sound of their sir name or the color of their skin.

According to researches, even though racist attitudes tend to have still been largely manifested, it has as well considerably reduced in terms of overt racist behavior, the reason behind it is considered to be due to development of strong social norms against openly expressing racist views. This change of attitude has gained support from comprehensive racial discrimination laws administered by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) at a federal level without forgetting the state and territory anti-discrimination commissions. Other researches on the other hand point out those social norms have not been well developed in every section of Australian coexistence, for instance in the sporting arena.

Within the sporting activities of Australia, which has been expected to be the fore front of fighting against the racism, it has been the opposite over the century. For instance, Eddie Gilbert who was a Queensland fast bowler and took 5 for 65 against the touring West Indies in 1929 and who once bowled Sir Donald Bradman for a duck in 1931, came to be excluded from higher honors with the reason behind it happened to be his indigenous background; another evidence was Duong Nicholls, the champion Fitzroy Australian rules football winger who later became the governor of South Australia found himself rejected by blue-blood Carlton in the late 1920s that he was smelling. In those early years of Australia’s federation to the dominant culture the idea of racist abuse tended to be legitimate and normal, and was seen as a part of playing the game, (McNamara L, 2000).

The Australian federal laws have been established with the aim of protecting people against racial discrimination in sports as well as other areas. HREOC administers “Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (RDA) that makes sure that people have to be equally treated no matter their color, race, descent, background, ethnic origin. Through the racial Hatred Act 1995(Cth) it provide a platform where people are able to air complaints whenever they have been racially offended or have faced abusive behavior.

The aim of the RDA is to create a balance between the right to communicate freely and the right to live free from vilification. Every state and territory are as well having a legislation that put it to be unlawful to discriminate or harass based on an individuals’ color, race, ethnic or ethno-religious background, national and ethnic background. This as well applies in a sporting organization in case the individuals who represent the organization for example, board members, coaches, officials, mangers and others, happens to behave unlawfully when they are in their duties. It is the obligation of the sporting organization to make sure that they prevent any unlawful act: They can do this through establishing policies and procedures, codes of conduct as well as offering education and training to its members for them to avoid such situation arising that could make them liable.

Majorly the obstacles that is experienced within the sport could be discrimination, racism, vilification or harassment by spectators directed at players, by player directed to other players or in form of racist behavior among spectator groups who are rival that could change into violence and disruption within the sporting. Some other can be actions of the media commentators, coaches and sporting officials, ( McNamara L, 2001).

Colin Tatz’s observation in his book “Aborigines in sports” defines that they tend to be Australians when they are winning while at other times tthey are define as Aborigines revealing the way Aborigines. For many indigenous sportsmen and women to have managed to overcome racial prejudices, it has been a great courage for them to have done well in their chosen sport, (Colin Tatz, 1980). Because of their efforts, there has been change where the sporting community is now showing a greater understanding to the challenges that are facing the Aborigines players. Their good achievement has been a key for narrowing the barriers thus making them the role models for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike.

Various efforts have been made in trying to end the differences, like for example; the 2007 federal funded initiative “Sporting Chance-School-Based Sports Academies.” Under it more than twenty sporting academies have been established having the objective of improving attendance, retention as well as literacy of Aboriginal students in across Australia especially in sporting-based programs that tend to be supplemented by academic activities. A research was done on the longitudinal impact of one of the programs concerning the educational outcomes, school climate psycho-social drivers on Aboriginal students.

Based on the sport academy, Girri Sports Academy for Indigenous Students has 130 enrolled students currently and is located in Western NSW. The Strategy involves has been influenced by self-efficacy, self-concept, as well identity theory and research. The employed research uses multi-method and multi-occasion multi-cohort (MCMO) methodology. The focus of quantitative data is on students questionnaire that is always administered every start of their calendar every year which is in November for a period of two years based on the multiple cohorts of students that take part in the Girri sports academy. The academic outcomes of students in English, Mathematics and PD/H/PE will be traced over the two-year period and retention data sourced from school records.

Some of the finding indicates that NSW, 51% of the Indigenous students happened to remain at school for the purpose of completing their year 12. On the other hand, the figure of the Western NSW, seems to be less indicating only 29% of the Indigenous students managing to complete year 12. This can be linked to the idea that Aboriginal students in the Western tend to limit their future life choices, further study possibilities that they have, and the number of career opportunities. As much as various strategies have been tried out within the Western NSW region, the retention data has failed to rise up for past years. The factors have been associated with individual student support, failure of coordinated approach that addresses retention issue, engagement strategies as well as quality teaching.

The research has been as well based on the self-concept as an important part of the adolescent development and that plays a very significant role in educational outcomes. The development of sports skills in addition to their participation in sports forms subsidiary outcomes, (Marsh, H.W. et.al, 1998). Together with other academies, their educational programs and strategies tend to be broad and it crosses variety of government sectors. Like these academies delivers career, sports coaching and training, sport science and sport medicine courses, traineeships, vocational qualifications, umpiring and club management programs. This is as well to determine the impact of sporting of the Sporting Chance initiative on students’ outcomes on improved literacy and increased retention and attendance rates.

Just like Girri Sport Academy their investigation provides an evaluation on the first year of a longitudinal study that tests the Sporting Chance initiative impact on the outcome of the students towards their improved literacy and increased retention. The investigation as well include examining the impact of change in motivation, school belonging and academic resilience on outcome. Different domains are used by Girri Sports Academy in developing self-efficacy of the students. On top it tries to, foster competencies across a number of domains-emotional, behavioral and cognitive; develop positive relationships; nurture a clear and positive identity; provide opportunity for social involvement; and, foster a belief in the future.

Amongst the focus of the intervention strategies, enhancing self-efficacy of the students in academic achievements seems to be of importance. Some researchers describe self-efficacy as a belief that one has concerning someone’s capabilities, therefore these may inturn improves personal well being in different ways. The Girri Girii Sport Academy enters the academy with high self-efficacy. Generally it has been believed that students with positive-identity are possibly to be associated with the success of the school and in order for the school to attain a positive self-identity then the students have no option except perceiving value in schooling.

According to (Craven, 1989)), the aspiration of evaluated Indigenous students as well as the results based on the self-concept indicates that of course indigenous students do have lower self-concept as derived from the academic facets of self-concept. Other researchers have associated identity to vocational education and illustrate that individuals tend to connect to the practices of their communities by valuing place and its learning impacts. There suggestion is on effective programs in vocational education, incorporate a place within the learning process as well as capitalizing on whatever has been brought by the learners.

The applied intervention by the Sporting Chance Program entails factors that have been suggested in research findings that do contribute to the development of positive self-identity young Indigenous students. Such factors are: role models- especially Indigenous role models; school systems and activities vocational education, curriculum and indigenous cultural events; significant people within the school included in the program; and family and wider Indigenous community.

From the intervention students have the opportunity of becoming peer leaders in educating primary partners new skills in sporting as well as young leaders in Indigenous cultural events. Within the program the coordinator has a significant role to play in delivering a quality teaching program which engages the students including curriculum and vocational education which result to receiving credential across a range of areas by the students like in referee tickets, first aid among others.

Another evaluation regarding the impact of Playing for success, a program of United Kingdom schools, having the outcome the same as the one of Sporting Chance found that to select a student will definitely benefit in developing a positive ethos thus encouraging and welcomes students, as well as emphasizing personalized learning with constant feedback hence contributing a lot to the program’s success and outcome of the students, (Marsh, H.W., Byrne, B.M., & Shavelson, R., 1998). The same ethos was established earlier. The concept is from believing that when students stay in school longer there will be a greater opportunity for them in gaining employment, further education and training, hence they experience improved life choices.

According to (Twigger-Ross and Uzzell, 1996), feeling of self-efficacy will be maintained in case the environment facilitates or does not interfere with an individual daily lifestyle. It is also believed that from taking part in extra-curricular activities, one will be in apposition of having a stronger sense of belonging resulting to development of an identity of a place. It is a fact that students who develop a positive relationship with a school will most likely complete year 12. The Girri Sports Academy establishes a platform where students can be involved in various co-curriculum activities. All through the year, students in the academy may participate in sporting opportunities, camps, and excursions.

A number of factors that contribute to a greater commitment and connection of schools exist. A positive self-identity (who we are and what our mind think we are) will always bring an improved outcome for Indigenous students. Various factors are involved on the impacting the outcomes of Indigenous students, for example, ‘significant others’ or vicarious experience provided by role models. The other factors are: teacher, school, support, curriculum, models as well as encouragement that are given by community, peers and family members. Apart from these there are curriculum issues such as cultural understanding, vocational education and career education. The entire factors tend to be part of delivery of the academy.

Most of the Indigenous go through more challenges on their journey to adulthood as well as in their socio-economic exclusion, youth suicide, lower life expectancy and especially barriers to access employment. It is of importance for young people to be provided with opportunities that can assist them in meeting the challenges on their journey. Just like the Girri Sport Academy, through sports, support the building of strong communities where every member becomes respected and valued thus making them to develop leadership skills, and team work in the process of learning through sports and structured activities sequenced that they can apply in building on previous experience, and creating a bond with the community. Students who are in the sport academy work with the primary school partners very closely in making sure that they build upon sports skills. They are also involved in strengthening community in terms of regular community meeting where they invite guest (various people of the community).


Sports have largely contributed to the reduction of the gap between the aboriginal with others. As much as it does this, it as well contribute a lot to the academic success of the Aboriginal initiatives such as the one of Girri Sports Academy. It has gained the confidence of such individuals through exposing them to the public as equally of worth people. Through sports the people have learnt to respect them during the sports and even cheer and call their names as one of their own; though to some extend it ends immediately the sports ends while a few learns to appreciate them even further. This has portrayed greatly the extend of racism that exist in Australia which calls for strong intervention to find a way of stopping it. Through the lay down acts in the bill of rights, there is hope to the Aboriginal that the manner of racism that they are experiencing will come to an end. There have been well defined rules and regulations with penalties for the individuals who are found to violate them thus it protects people of the Aboriginal origin from segregation and other kinds of racism from happening. When the sport has developed self-efficacy or self-identity in an individual through the existing academies then the Aboriginal will be in a position to develop much better in their educational levels and in the society.


Colin Tatz, (1980). Aborigines in sport, Australian Society for Sport History, Retrieved August 24, 2012 from http://www.la84foundation.org/SportsLibrary/ASSHSSH/ASSHSSH03.pdf

Colin Tatz, (1995). “Obstacle Race: Aborigines in Sport.” Retrieved August 24, 2012 from http://www.hreoc.gov.au/racial_discrimination/whats_the_score/pdf/introduction.pdf

Craven, R.G. (1989). An examination of self-concept: The interrelationship of teachers’, parents and children’s perceptions of self-concept, and their influence in enhancing

self-concept. Unpublished B.A. Honours Thesis, University of Sydney, Australia. Retrieved August 25, 2012 from http://www.aare.edu.au/99pap/bur99425.htm

Marsh, H.W., Byrne, B.M., & Shavelson, R. (1998). A multifaceted academic self-concept:

Its hierarchical structure and its relation to academic achievement. Journal Of Educational Psychology, Retrieved August 25, 2012 from http://ehlt.flinders.edu.au/education/iej/articles/v7n4/green/paper.pdf

McNamara L, (2000) ‘Tackling Racial Hatred: Conciliation, Reconciliation and Football’ in Australian Journal of Human Rights. Retrieved August 25, 2012 from http://www.hreoc.gov.au/racial_discrimination/guide_law/index.html.

McNamara L, (2001) ‘on the field and off the field: Sport and Racial Hatred’, Paper for the Racism and Civil Society: A national summit on racism, Canberra. Retrieved August 25, 2012 from http://www.hreoc.gov.au/racial_discrimination/conferences/worldconference/mcnamara.html

Purdie, N (2000) ‘Self-Identity for Indigenous Students and Its Relationship to School

Outcomes’ Commonwealth Department of Education and Training & Youth Affairs.

Retrieved http://ehlt.flinders.edu.au/education/iej/articles/v7n4/green/paper.pdf

Twigger-Ross, C.L. & Uzzell, D.L. (1996). ‘Place and Identity processes’, Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol.16,pp 205-220. Retrieved August 25, 2012 from http://www.aare.edu.au/08pap/con08748.pdf

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