With no netball, not even signing news, netball twitter has been pretty quiet in recent months, until yesterday when it went off like a firecracker with the decree (when after not tweeting for a month) @9Netball dropped the 2-point shot rule change.

I specifically mention the 9 Netball account as they already had an article written up and ready to go for the announcement from Netball Australia who tweeted after. The Suncorp Super Netball, to which the rule change affects, because yes, this rule change will not be implemented in grass roots netball, nor internationally – as far as we are aware, in fact, many overseas are taking a bit of glee in this, thinking it will hurt Diamonds preparation for Internationals, and they are probably right – did have their tweets ready to go at same time as well.

The timing on all of this matters, as Nine, the Super Netball broadcaster, Netball Australia and Suncorp Super Netball obviously had all their social media ready for this announcement, was co-ordinated you could say.

The only people who didn’t know seem to be the Players, Coaches, Clubs and Fans. Pretty major so-called stake-holders in the game I would have thought?

What is more astonishing is this is announced on the 23rd of June when the competition starts on the 01st of August. Not even 6 weeks, or 39 days for coaches to adjust to the new rule.

Whether you like the idea of radically changing a fundamental part of game of netball or not with this rule change, what sort of professional competition makes such a drastic change without any consultation and with such a short lead-in time for any sort of training and strategy adjustments for coaches to prepare their players for it?

Oh wait, there was some consultation with fans. Only a few short months ago they put the question out there – again – and as recently as 12 March 2020 – yep only a few short months ago – had the appropriately titled “Not today, not ever: Your reaction to the 2-point shot” in response to floating the idea of a 2-point shot area. This is one of my favourite lines from that piece:

“And boy did you make your feelings known. We now know exactly where you stand on the matter and it’s definitely not within the outer edges of the goal circle.”

We are used to seeing 2 and 3 point shots in Fast 5 and obviously used the 2 point shot in the bushfire relief game, pretty much the exhibition style or fundraising format of the game. Even fans who hate the 2 pointer didn’t begrudge it too much with the Bushfire relief game as knew it was not a ‘real’ game and extra funds were raised for each shot taken from that 2 point area. Fast 5 like a weekend of the old-fashion netball carnival in a quicker more fun format. It is not serious netball, no-one ever remembers who won which year, unlike the elite version of the game.

Even if you ignore the fans, obviously something Suncorp Super Netball are happy to do UGH! The way the players, coaches and clubs have been treated by last minute rule change is disgraceful.

You would think a professional competition would have some consultation. Hell even the NRL, referred to by Super Netball chair Marina Go in this article “'Terrible': Players outraged by rule change inspired by NRL, V'landys” would have had consultation with clubs, coaches, umpires and players at least before making such a radical change. More importantly, thinking of big changes in the past, they have always done so as part of their season post-mortem in preparation for the new season, giving everyone involved all of pre-season to adjust to new rule, change their training to accommodate and in some cases address player retention as obviously it would have an affect on those decisions.

As an aside, have to feel for Adelaide Thunderbirds, not that I’m a fan of religious bigots but geez, they must be gritting their teeth having let go probably the finest long shot goal shooter in the game in Maria Folau? OUCH!

Anyhow, to drop this on them with 39 days to adjust is seriously disrespectful.

COVID-19 has been a horrible time for the whole nation (well world) and sport has been similar with copping with not playing, financial woes, uncertainty if there would even be a season this year and of course Netball has not been immune to that. In fact many of were bragging about how wonderful our netball players were, taking pay cuts, working collaboratively with the governing body unlike most of the big name sports where many players were spitting the dummy about not wanting to take a shave on their often very well remunerated pay cheques. Considering many netballers are on minimum wage, with some (like others in the community actually earning more while on JobKeeper) a pay cut really hurt yet there were no dummy spits from our netballers.

I wonder how those same player who happily sacrificed pay for the good of the competion are feeling now? πŸ€”  Personally I would be pretty filthy.

Obviously some are. Considering netball is conservative and has this weird “polite” thing going on, which it always has, is pretty delusional, as no way in hell every single person “loves each other” and my personal fave, every single contact on court is accidental, yep, no need for a Match Review Panel in Super Netball ARGH! Anyhow, with this sort of backdrop, fans normally have to read between the lines to get any sort of idea as to what players or coaches might ‘really’ think about Netball Australia decisions as dissent is not brooked. Ever!

Another aside… kind of ironic that Netball wants to cite V’landys and NRL, play in the same sphere as the big boys, just doesn’t want the same sort of criticism and accountability that also brings?

So given the uber-we all one big family vibe of netball it is absolutely astonishing to see big name players actually indicating their publicly their unhappiness with this decision. From the Captain of the Diamonds no less who seemed to be first out of the blocks on Instagram.

Jo Weston let us know that even the Competition Committee were not consulted.

Caitlin Thwaites who will probably benefit from this change being a great long shot shooter didn't mince her words. Jo Harten another superb long shot proponent who will benefit from this change kind of summed it short and sweet.

Helen Houseby who I suspect will go to town with the rule change on long shots, being pretty bloody good at them commented:

Even shade being thrown by newer Diamonds?

Speaking of shade... if you are a proud Australian netball fan, suggest you don't look at the shade thrown by those overseas, particularly the UK and NZ, bit of 'glee' in the air there 😞

I have not trawled through all of social media so no idea if other players or coaches have said anything but the above alone is honestly astonishing and illustrates how impactful this non consultative change is.

You have to wonder how many coaches had to smile politely in the face of media calls yesterday afternoon, tossing out words like ‘up for the challenge’ etc., when they must have been seething inside and in a panic working out how they could get their coaching staff together to come up with new strategies in just 39 short days to prepare for this change?

Again… disrespectful.

Don’t get me wrong, I do agree with Marina Go to a certain degree:

"Male sports are making innovative changes to their rules to increase the entertainment value of the game and they’re doing that to position themselves to greater revenue opportunities ... we need to be as agile as them," she said. "Peter V'landys has said that they [the NRL] want to make the league faster. They’re not doing it because it's fun, they are doing it because it provides a greater entertainment product."
"We need to reach sports fans and that’s what the NRL has done."

But they do so to enhance the game, I can’t see how this change will enhance the game? Our game is already super fast. I do agree we need to reach sports fans, but riddle me this…

There is next to no advertising for Super Netball out in the wider community, little to none on TV, even the broadcaster Nine, so how is a rule change going to attract more “sports fans” when they are not even aware the game is televised and exists as an elite competition?

I also suspect that 'sports fans' in the context of this rule change is actually 'attract more blokes'?

So that reasoning just doesn’t stack up. What random sports fan are sitting around on their couches in this nation thinking, “oh great, netball will have 2 point shots, I will watch it now”? πŸ€”

This same piece also quotes Super Netball chief executive Chris Symington:

"We've been discussing and debating this for years and there was a bit of a stalemate feeling around it. It’s not a completely new concept ... it is something that has been on the table for a long time," he said. "We knew going into this there would be a mixed reaction."

Stalemate”, “mixed reaction”, FFS! The 2-point suggestion has been overwhelmingly canned every single time it has been proposed, normally along lines of ummm we are not basketball SIGH!

I look at this comment from Symington and just think of Scouts tweet πŸ˜‰

Maybe if we want to attract more ‘sports fans’ we should you know advertise the game? Widely. You can have the best product in the world but it means squat if people don’t even really know it exists, nor that they can watch it on telly. A big advertising campaign throughout ALL media would be a good way to go. Hell, maybe starting in own associations would help too, the numbers of players, from young to social who have shown no interest in watching the elite competition is pretty crook, marketing to them might help too huh?

What I find most frustrating is I hate the tall under the post vibe. Would way prefer to see more long shots, really despise how the system is set up where likes of Nat Medhurst and Steph Wood being more traditional Goal Attacks who will make that decision not to stuff around in the circle and take a punt on a long shot hoping for the rebound if it doesn’t land are penalised for not having as good ‘shooting stats’.

Gretel Tippett had a wonderful run of not missing one shot, was amazing, lauded in commentary etc., but… I still wonder, considering how many games Queensland Firebird either tied or lost by one or two points whether they might have won a few of those if Tippett had taken the odd long shot – which we know from past years with Fast 5 she can do – instead of the goal circle ending up in a mess trying to get right under the post to take that shot and losing the ball to the other end of the court to score?

Anne Sargeant has written a piece for Nine's Wide World of Sports "Anne Sargeant: Why netball's super shot should be given a chance" advocating for the two point shot, like all Nine commentators have done, which is understandable, though she makes some good points and is worth a read. As I said, I also want more long shots in the game, but this is not the way to do it. A last minute rush in the dying minutes of the quarter to get a long shot in for extra points is gimmicky. Maybe as I mentioned earlier, more praise by commentators for bravery of those who will take that long shot, points when it comes to the player stats so it mitigates the lower shot percentage, because face it, taking longer shots does result in that, but geez can make a difference in those clutch moments and that is just not rewarded with our stats system nor commentary?

So yeah… it feel weird to me, a fan who pays for membership, pays to go to games who regularly yells “TAKE THE SHOT” in the crowd, preferring to see a go at a long shot than chance of losing chance at a shot at all trying to get it under the post. But here we are. Yes, I want more long shots, but this gimmicky stuff is not the way to do it.

I know… how about talk to the players? You never know, they might actually have some good suggestions as to how to get more long shots or ‘make the game more exciting’, even ask the fans, you know the ones already paying now keeping the game alive? Just saying.

I could rant all day and I don’t know what we can do to change this, not like we can boycott the game as we know it is not the players fault and would not want to hurt them. For all we know that was the plan by Suncorp Super Netball powers that be, dump without players knowing so they would not cop any backlash?

Considering comment from SSN chair Marina Go on twitter, doubt they are looking at any adverse comments as it seems there are heaps of people who are fans of the change? Quiet Australians? 😳

Probably won’t matter, but there is a petition out there, can’t hurt to sign that and share around “Stop the 2-Point Super Shot In SSN

To be frank, as a fan, who has spent thousands, literally thousands on Suncorp Super Netball in the last 3 years, In fact I shudder to think how much time and money the three generations of my family have spent on Suncorp Super netball 😳 I find it really offensive to be dissed like this.

A sad thought:

Only a day prior to this bombshell 2-point shot announcement that flies in the face of fan feedback, Netball Australia released a press release in response to an interview with Beryl Friday in relationship to her experience of racism in netball titled ”Our commitment to listen, learn and change” which at the time I found encouraging, Netball is way to straight, white and middle class and pretty much always has been. 😒

Though considering Netball Australia can’t even listen to the majority of fans, you have to wonder if a vulnerable minority in our nation such as Indigenous Australians stand much of a chance of a look in at all? And believe me, I really hate writing this sentence at all 😒

But hey, we are just punters, paying those membership fees, turning up to the games, buying the merch, watching the games on the telly, spreading the word in the community, who cares if we don’t like the 2-point shot? ☹

Netball fan

PS. I apologise to Gretel, I forgot she got married recently and is no longer Gretel Tippett but Gretel Bueta. Congratulations by the way 😊





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