Do you know what I really love? When people tell the world that netball isn’t a sport. This happened on LBC radio this week.
In one of my (many) netball chats, one of the girls alerted us to Nick Ferrari. I’d never heard of him before. I’m sure he is a good radio DJ, and I’m sure he makes loads of valid points on his show. However, on this occasion he was very, very wrong.
So, what did he have to say?
LISTEN HERE: Nick Ferrari netball hater
CAUTION. DISTURBING CONTENT.
Have you finished listening? Now you’re probably as fuming as I was.
So let’s break this down a bit…
1. “Netball is not a sport. It’s not a sport like cricket, football and rugby.”
Funny how he mentions sports predominantly played by men. He also prefers watching women play tennis because the ‘ball moves much slower’ making it easier to watch.
Do we have a casual sexist in our midst? I think so.
Also, who made Mr Ferrari the Head of World Sport Classification? No one? Exactly.
2. “How many are on a pitch, five?”
There’s a lot wrong with this. Firstly, he’s showing how ignorant he is. Why would you have such a strong opinion, on a sport you know NOTHING about?
Obviously, we all know, there are SEVEN players, on a COURT.
For years I thought cricket was boring. It’s not sport I enjoy. But my boyfriend loves it. So when he came into our bedroom on Sunday, where I was chilling having just travelled back from the World Cup in Liverpool, and said I ‘must watch the super over’ – I didn’t laugh in his face and tell him it’s not a sport. I probably looked at him blankly, but I wasn’t going to belittle or mock his excitement.
I thought I’d give it a go. And I’m really glad I did! Like the millions of other people around the world, I was hooked. I sat on the sofa with my fingers over my eyes, and cheered on Jofra Archer.
So Mr Ferrari, you obviously no eff all about netball. Maybe you should watch a game. Give it a go. You might learn something.
3. “You can’t tackle.”
So being able to tackle makes something a sport?
Does that mean cricket isn’t a sport (he likes to talk a lot about cricket…)?
There’s no tackling in sprinting. Not a sport?
There’s no tackling in tennis. Not a sport?
There’s no tackling in skiing. Not a sport?
There’s no tackling in gymnastics. Not a sport?
All that aside, calling netball a non-contact sport is laughable. Just watch five minutes of elite teams going head-to-head.
Mr Ferrari talks about picking up his sons from school, and watching girls play and how boring it was. Well, you old fossil, netball has come a long way since then. And watching young people playing any type of sport, and thinking that’s the level that professional athletes now play at, is ridiculous!
Netball isn’t a non-contact sport. It’s a ‘fair contact sport’. This means, if two players are going after the same ball and they contact each other, but neither is more disadvantaged, then it’s fair game. The umpire won’t blow their whistle. And play continues.
So bruises and scratches definitely aren’t uncommon.
Watch a bit of netball on YouTube Mr. Ferrari. Here’s a link to the Commonwealth Games final: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H25dND9cJuQ
4. “It’s not even a sport. It’s a pastime.”
Tell that to the 1.4 million women who play it at least once during a netball season (according to England Netball).
Tell that to the tens of thousands of women who turn up to their matches on a Saturday. Tell that to the hundreds of women who I see every weekend, 13 divisions over five courts. Tell that to the 32 women in my club. Tell that to the 12 women in my team.
We don’t think it’s an out-dated past time. We think it’s on the rise.
5. “Why do people train for years to throw a ball?”
This is a cracker.
Why do people train for years to kick a ball? Hit a ball with a bat? Or a racket? Why do people train to run? To row? To dance?
Because we enjoy it, you damn fool!
The same way you like talking about things on your radio show.
6. “One step. Oh for goodness sake.”
Yes Mr Ferrari, when you have the ball you can only take one step. However, ask Laura Langman or Serena Guthrie if they’re lazy.
Are football goal keepers lazy? Are shot-putters lazy? Are darts players lazy? Not many steps involved in these sports.
Although there are no statistics that I can find, the number of steps taken in elite netball would go up into the tens of thousands (if anyone can find stats on this, I’d be most interested!).
Although you can only take one step, it’s often taken on the run. Which means you have to be really skilled, to catch and release without doing footwork. It’s also very quick.
Fancy a game?
I actually hear quite a lot that ‘netball isn’t a real sport’ – and normally I just shrug it off. But when someone who obviously knows nothing about netball (yes, it IS a sport), and then goes on to prove how ill-informed he is on a large platform, it’s a lot harder to dismiss.
Maybe he feels threatened that a sport that’s mainly played by women is growing in popularity – taking the attention away from his beloved cricket. Or that men are also tuning into watch it, which refutes his argument that it’s a girls sport, far beneath big tough men.
To be honest, I no longer care. I’ve wasted too much energy and too many words on this man.
But Mr Ferrari, if you fancy taking a trip to Beckenham, we can show you what netball is all about. We’ll give you a game and show you how it is. And if you want it to be a bit more ‘physical’ I’m sure someone will stick out their foot to trip you up, or give you a cheeky elbow.
Or alternatively, tune in for the final on Sunday. Watch a full 60 minutes. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.