A hurting Eddie Betts has questioned his AFL future as a result of constant racial vilification but is determined to keep fighting for what he believes in.
The veteran Carlton forward this month called out the latest in a long and constant line of racially motivated attacks directed at him.
Playing in his 16th AFL season, Betts says he has been racially abused at least once a year for the past decade and the persistent attacks hurt deeply.
The 33-year-old considered whether to address a Twitter post, which depicted him as a monkey, but felt it was his duty as an Aboriginal role model to call out despicable behaviour.
“I was really angry and I wanted to put something up that was aggressive, but that’s not my nature. I’m kind and I always like to give people a second chance and I always like to educate people,” Betts told Fox Footy on Tuesday night.
“I’ve got to set up barriers every day when I leave the house, thinking I’m going to get racially abused when I’m driving or when I go to a supermarket.
“All I want to do is rock up to training, play and enjoy the game of footy.
“I’m sick and tired of it but I want the AFL to be a safe platform for young Aboriginal kids to come and enjoy and play footy without being racially abused.
“If I have to take the full brunt of all that and try and educate people so that the platform is a safe place, I am happy to cop the brunt.
“It deeply hurts and you think to yourself ‘why do I keep playing footy if I keep copping this’, but I want to make a change.”
West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui is another player who has been the victim of racist attacks during his career.
Naitanui has worked hard to educate people about the topic, but said social media was a dangerous tool that people have exploited.
“Everyone’s got a voice now,” said Naitanui, who is of Fijian descent.
“Anyone can tease you about anything and they can be seen, they can write it on your personal social media or on the club one as well … so there’s no accountability at times.
“You can make a fake account and troll guys, but that’s just the kind of world we’re in at the moment.
“Until that changes and there’s some sort of repercussions for people getting caught for that stuff, then I guess we just have to find ways to educate and keep teaching guys that it’s not right and it’s not accepted.”
Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield went up to Betts to offer his support following Geelong’s loss to Carlton last Saturday.
“I know he’s had to deal with this s*** for his entire life, and it’s crap,” Dangerfield told SEN.
“We just all need to be better, and I don’t understand how people get off on this sort of commentary they’re willing to drop on us, it’s so disappointing.”