It is pretty much taken for granted that in each of the major codes in Australia there will be one round of competition labelled the “Indigenous Round.”
In reality what does this actually mean? Is it simply lip service to the Aboriginal people of Australia who participate in the sport. Is it mere tokenism? Or is there a genuine desire by the various sporting codes to embrace Aboriginal culture and beliefs as well as athletes to their code?
Having attended games branded as such this writer has walked away having gleaned very little about the true people of Australia that I did not already know.
Teams don shirts with Aboriginal designs, but how many sit and listen to what that design actually means, the story behind it and how privileged they are to wear it? How many clubs simply sell the shirts off and pocket the proceeds rather than donating to a worthy Aboriginal related causes? How many simply dispose of them without a second glance?
Some codes have excellent programs to encourage Aboriginal youngsters to take up sport. Some have superb set=ups where they work hard to help players who may have come from the bush settle into life in the city. Some codes however simply leave the young player to fend for himself. Sure they may give him a car and a roof over his head but do they spend time helping them settle in and understanding why they are finding it so hard and what can be done to make it easier? This of course does not just apply to Aboriginal youths.
Some clubs in various codes have been accused of dismissing Aboriginal players too soon, claiming they are too time consuming, too hard to deal with, that they must learn to help themselves before they can help them.
There are good well intentioned people in every code of sport and some sports are better than others, just as some clubs are better than others. However sports fans really need to stop for a second and question what the Indigenous round in their sport is really all about. Is it tokenism, a form of marketing? Does it mean the code gets to tick a Government box and therefore receive extra funding? Or does it in fact go some way to reconciliation and educating people about Aboriginal culture and beliefs?
Depending on your answer one has to ask if it and other “dedicated” rounds have a genuine place in modern day sport, or if the punters are just being hoodwinked.