World Netball Series may fizz without crowd support

Natalie Medhurst Roar Rookie

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    Netball is now following in the footsteps of cricket and rugby in providing a shorter version of the game, which will hopefully excite existing netball fans and grab the attention of new ones. Between October 9-11, a new World Netball Series will take place in Manchester, featuring the top six netballing countries: Australia, New Zealand, England, Jamaica, Samoa and Malwai.

    With a strong supporter base in Australia, and even more so in New Zealand, the introduction of this new competition raises questions of whether it will be a success in its first year and what possible longevity it will have as an alternative to the traditional 60 minute game of netball.

    Over the years, there have been those spectators who find that the game isn’t long enough and you don’t get enough value for your money.

    There are those who think that the game is too boring to watch, especially on television.

    And there are those who prefer to see a bit more biff and don’t think that netball is physical enough, which I certainly do not agree with.

    And then there are those, who love the game the way that it is.

    Whilst everyone can’t be pleased, this new tournament, along with the new rules, will hopefully provide spectators with an even faster paced and skilled game that will be excite and engage.

    These new rules allow teams to make a limited number of rolling substitutions throughout a game, which will be similar to the practice done in basketball. And using a rule from the current Twenty20 format, teams will be allowed to allocate one quarter in which goals will be worth double points, known as a “power play”.

    Being a shooter myself, I am glad to see that all those half court competition shots after training sessions will now pay off, as goals can be shot from outside the regular goal circle and will be worth double points, which could equate to four goals if scored during a power play quarter.

    Along with these changes, the game will be cut down to only six minute quarters, including two minute breaks.

    Whilst the new competition sounds exciting and will cater for those who would like to see something a little bit different, I wonder what the life of this competition will be.

    The new Twenty20 cricket competition is a huge success. However, the game still goes for several hours, unlike netball, which already only goes for 60 minutes and is going to be cut down to 24 minutes with this new competition.

    In comparison to many other sports, netball does not really allow fans to engage in the game.

    Whilst there is the usual cheer of a goal or a groan at an umpiring decision, no music is played whilst the game is in play, like there is at basketball, and crowds don’t start Mexican waves like they do at the football and cricket.

    All of this is part of the atmosphere of a sporting spectacle and is one of the reasons that people attend these games. It is part of the great experience that comes along with watching a sporting event.

    Maybe this is why I find tennis rather draining to watch.

    As exciting as it is to turn my head from side to side and watch the ball being hit, then applaud a good shot, before being told by the chair umpire “quiet please,” I would much rather watch the AFL or the cricket and enjoy the atmosphere and the interaction that’s available with other spectators.

    I believe this is something that often is missed from games of netball. On the odd occasion where the crowd really gets vocal during a netball game, as a player, it is great to hear. But it doesn’t happen often enough.

    Along with the crowd atmosphere, there is another concern as how this World Netball Series is going to fit in to the netball calender over the next couple of years.

    Within Australia and New Zealand, the ANZ Championship runs from April through to August, with international commitments continuing after its conclusion.

    However, in 2010, the Commonwealth Games are being held, and in 2011, the Netball World Championship will be taking place in Singapore, where Australia will be hoping to retain the ‘World Champions’ crown.

    With these two large tournaments coming up over the next two years, which will see large amounts of preparation being undertaken by teams, will this new shortened version of the game be able to fit into the busy netball schedule of 2010 and 2011 and allow countries such as Australia to host such an event?

    Or could this competition just be a one off and end up being a good idea that just didn’t take off?

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • February 6th 2009 @ 6:59am
      Albert Ross said | February 6th 2009 @ 6:59am | ! Report

      Shorter version? I don’t think so, Shorter skirts perhaps.

    • Columnist

      February 6th 2009 @ 7:32am
      Spiro Zavos said | February 6th 2009 @ 7:32am | ! Report

      Shorter versions of classic games invariably get rubbished before they establish the genre and their identity. Think of the ruckus over one-day cricket, and more recently Twenty/20 cricket. Both shorter versions of the game are here to stay, along with first class cricket and the Tests. I think that netball is on to a good thing with its shorter version, sooner or later. I have one suggestion, though.
      It’s always seemed to me that a major design fault on netball is the restricted scoring system. In my view, the game would become even more interesting if there was scope for a 2-point shot, and even a 3-point shot.
      Teams well behind on the scoreboard could go for broke to get back into the game, as in basketball.

    • February 6th 2009 @ 10:33am
      Keith said | February 6th 2009 @ 10:33am | ! Report

      Can’t say I’ve ever been a keen netball supporter, but do take in some of the big games. From what I’ve seen there’s nothing wrong with the sport itself – it’s fast, tactical and really skillful. Netball’s problem is with it’s perceived lack of credibility as a spectator sport, not with the sport itself. The battle to get more supporters is one for the marketers not the rule makers.

    • February 6th 2009 @ 11:12am
      Lazza said | February 6th 2009 @ 11:12am | ! Report

      I agree with Keith that Netball is a fast, tactical and skillful sport. I think the problem it has in expanding is similar to all our traditional sports. They left it too late!

      In future it may struggle to keep the ladies away from Woman’s Football. Football gives the ladies far more opportunities. They can represent the country at the Olympics, World Cup and they can pursue a professional career overseas and make some decent money.

    • February 6th 2009 @ 11:29am
      Forgetmenot said | February 6th 2009 @ 11:29am | ! Report

      Those 4 point shots would be pretty exciting to watch. It would be pretty hard doing those over and over.

      Netball in a lot of Australia is a social hub for the girls to get together and have fun. At the games it is a chance for the blokes to have a chat while watching their partners beat the opposition.
      Perhaps with these shorter versions, there could be a lot of travelling around different places in Australia, and hooking on to this support.

    • February 8th 2009 @ 7:06am
      Ian said | February 8th 2009 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      Spiro,

      That’s exactly what’s going to happen in this shorter version of the game. There will be two point shots for goals scored from outside the circle. I like that part and I’ve thought for a long time that it should be introduced into the regular game. The bit I don’t like in this shorter version is the “power play” idea where you can nominate one quarter where your score is doubled. I think it’s an unnecessary ploy to try to add interest to the game when it’s simply not needed. And it could lead to a team getting an undeserved victory, because they just happen to get lucky with the quarter they take their power play in.

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