A column on marginalised sports could well be a column on women in sports. Yet in writing this bi-weekly segment I’ve hardly mentioned women, apart from the tendency of professional—male—footballers to sleep with them. I feel like that time I told the woman in my social cricket team the opposition would go easy on her. She promptly told me to fuck off. (I’m a terrible feminist).
Predictably, netball is the sport of the week.
In Australia, more men play in mixed netball teams than they do rugby union. Presuming at least half the team is female, more women play netball just in mixed grades than the entire male rugby playing population. It is a surprising figure. Numbers for New Zealand are harder to come by. Still Netball, and women in sport generally (forgive the conflation), are only marginalised inasmuch as they exist in a culture that is still dismissive of women in sport. A culture where women—even as a majority—are pushed out of the market against large contracts of male (read: profitable) sports. In turn our perceptions on the sportsman are skewed and the cycle continues. It is a point made many times before, even within Salient’s pages. It is one worth driving home until it sticks.
“How?!” You decry, “All they show on ESPN is beach volleyball!”
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As ever, I am the entrenched advocate of social sport. Join a mixed netball team, and don’t go easy on the woman marking you. Heck, go watch a game of the Women’s Basketball Championship. Who knows, you might even enjoy it.
To quote Blake Griffen from Broad City: “The WNBA… They are so good. I literally steal moves from them all the time … It’s just like the best version of basketball there is.”
“That’s women for ya,” says Ilana. “Always making stuff better,” replies Blake.