Lack of money patently unjust or just fact of life?

Silver Ferns players celebrate their victory in the World Cup final. Photo: Reuters
Silver Ferns players celebrate their victory in the World Cup final. Photo: Reuters
The Silver Ferns lit up the nation with their stunning win over the Australians to lift the World Cup. But for winning the final the side gets no financial reward.

Adrian Seconi argues that is blatantly unfair while Steve Hepburn thinks the lack of money is just the reality of the sport.

HEPBURN

It is an unjust world we live in.

Questionable people with questionable haircuts get into positions of power.

People get paid millions to kick a round ball around a field - badly many times. Millions watch people paint a wall and argue about it and apparently it is entertainment.

So sure, the Silver Ferns deserve to get paid more. And maybe they should get paid. But they won't. Not unless super minister Chris Hipkins gets involved.

After all, he found an extra $250 million for the school teachers.

But the reality is netball as a sport does not have enough money or history to have win bonuses.

The game struggles big time when it comes to attracting dollars. It is a very popular sport in New Zealand and Australia and that is where it ends.

A sport has to be truly international and watched by plenty of people to draw the dollars.

Unfortunately, netball has a limited appeal. It is great game and is a real team sport, although there is too much whistle. But it does not attract enough viewers.

It is basic commerce, really. Not enough people like your product so you cannot make much money.

The cricketers get loads of dosh because a billion Indians follow cricket and are willing to pay for the product. If Indians turned their backs on cricket then there would be no prize money for the Black Caps or anyone else.

Netball is not helped by being played indoors which limits gate takings as opposed to outdoor games such as rugby and football.

The only way for netball to get money is to grow the game into rich countries which buy into the sport and open up their wallets. Good luck with that.

What sport has done that in the past 30 years? And a women's sport at that.

The only way the Silver Ferns will get funds to pay the players a win bonus is if the sponsors come to the party. That idea came from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and is not a bad suggestion.

Surely ANZ Bank can come to the party. How about selling off some of that spare wine accumulated by former chief executive David Hisco and sending the proceeds to the Silver Ferns?

SECONI

You reckon millions of people buy Hatchimals for their kids because they are quality products which deliver endless hours of fun?

Sorry to blow out the candles but those strange little critters are all marketing and hype.

The fascination lasts about an hour longer than it takes the plastic egg shell to break apart, yet they fly off the shelves.

You can create a global market from a marginal product and you can expand a niche audience into a much larger one with a little effort.

So this tired argument my colleague has wheeled out justifying the zero prize money on offer at the Netball World Cup just does not add up.

Netball does not need to stoop to glossy packaging and slick public relations. It is a dynamic game which translates well to television. And for the past week or so it had our nation gripped.

The Silver Ferns' stunning 52-51 victory against Australia was a remarkable turnaround from the disappointing Commonwealth Games campaign.

It is a compelling storyline and one the sponsors should be clamouring to get behind.

They can use the Silver Ferns' struggles as leverage to flog us even more useless products in even greater numbers than before.

I'd buy toothpaste that promised a winning smile like Maria Folau - the rainbow community might not be enticed to open their wallets or their hearts, though.

If commercial forces are not circling in the same numbers as they would have if Black Caps opener Martin Guptill had made his ground during that super over at the Cricket World Cup, then perhaps that reflects how our society views female sport.

We undervalue it. We really do.

The lack of prize money at the Netball World Cup had nothing to do with marketability and audience size and everything to do with sexism.

Imagine if we put in as many resources into women's sport as we do men's sport? We would never get anything done in the weekend, that is for sure.

And this idea that netball is a globally insignificant sport does not wash either. The sport is played in more than 70 countries by about 20 million people.

Who wouldn't like a slice of that market?

As it is, the netball market in Australia, England and New Zealand ought to have been large enough to front up with one of those oversized cheques.

The sporting enviroment in New Zealand is changing rapidly. Sports such as cricket and rugby have realised the value in promoting female sport and are putting more resources into the women's game.

The International Netball Federation needs to be a bit more ambitious about its sport and value its elite athletes more. Pay up.

Comments

Facts of Life are movable feasts. To say nothing will change is Fatalism. Nothing is set.

Mr Seconi's hand-wringing is easily fixed — just have gender-neutral sport and let women take their chances against men. We don't have separate professional divisions for short men in basketball or for fat men in the marathon.

More difficult to resolve is the 'inequity' — which he doesn't mention — whereby some outstanding male stars get paid far less than others: Bond and Murray vs the ABs, for example. Quite tricky to attribute that one to 'sexism'...

they did what the cricket cant win a world cup

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