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Contact sports: judgements of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australian football league players' performance

Donaghue, N. and Walker, I. (2007) Contact sports: judgements of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australian football league players' performance. South African Journal of Psychology, 37 (4). pp. 771-782.


Professional sport is often cited as an arena in which members of racial minorities can achieve high status and public success. In Australia, Aboriginal players are over-represented among the ranks of players in the highest levels of the nation's premier football code, the Australian Football League, yet are conspicuously under-represented in the formal honours awarded in this league. This paper examines the votes awarded during the AFL's 'best and fairest' competition during the 2001 season, and investigates the extent to which the votes awarded to players are accounted for by objective indicators of performance (match statistics). We found that most of the variance in votes could be attributed to objective match statistics, and there was no evidence of any effect of players' race on voting after match statistics were controlled. However, there was some indication that the opportunities for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal players may not be equivalent; no Aboriginal player was named in a 'key position' for any club in the 2001 season. The results are discussed in terms of the structural barriers that may explain why, despite over 100 years of acclaim on the field, Aboriginal players are still largely excluded from the most senior roles and responsibilities in their football clubs.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology
Publisher: Psychological Society of South Africa
Copyright: Psychological Society of South Africa
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