Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by Jacob McArthur from the Northern Daily Leader in Tamworth, NSW.
In footy, final quarters are brutal business.
Characters are tested, fatigued and forced to call on whatever, if any, resolve resides deep within, and to find reserves of strength they might not have realised were there.
Sometimes it's all too much to bear. Just ask an Ararat Eagle.
Their team was recently downed 515-6 in a game of Aussie Rules in rural Victoria by aptly named rivals Great Western.
The final quarter was merciless.
The great Great Western team kicked 30 goals and six behinds - more than a goal a minute.
They led by 323 points at three-quarter time, but their dominance was saved for the end where 30 of their 79 goals were kicked.
But the Eagles weren't the only ones feeling the pain and learning uncomfortable truths in a final quarter this past week.
An ugly side of the nation was laid bare. There were no apologetic revelations made in hindsight, just the headlines and the commentary at the time.
This isn't just an AFL issue, it's an example on how Australia deals with racism and the dialogue it has with Blackfullas. Racism is in every facet of industry because it's in the fabric of the Nation. It's an opportunity to ask yourself; where do you stand? #TheFinalQuarterFilm— Senator Briggs (@Briggs) July 18, 2019
Footy is brutal and, to some, just another senseless game occupying great swathes of the public's consciousness.
But sport has voice like no other. It might sound like Jesse Owens, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Colin Kaepernick, Cody Walker, Nicky Winmar, Michael Long or Adam Goodes - in some instances speaking volumes with silence.
The Final Quarter forced us to reflect on the ugliness of a boo - that spiralling, dissonant and visceral expulsion of wind from the lungs - and those who defended the booing of Goodes.
It also forced us - as communities nation-wide celebrated NAIDOC week and its theme of Voice Treaty Truth - to reflect on race relations and history, and the need for so-called quiet Australians to listen and to speak up so that the haters aren't the ones defining who we are.
And maybe, just maybe, it reminded us that if there's one thing more powerful and unifying at the footy than a boo, it's the cheering. Which is the least that players like Goodes - and those weekend warriors at the Aarat Eagles, whatever their club's travails - deserve to hear all the way to the final siren.
Journalist, Northern Daily Leader