Dana Johannsen 's Opinion

Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald’s chief sports reporter

Dana Johannsen: Norma shows true grit over threats

11 comments
Aussie coaching legend gets on with job - touring Fever in NZ - and refuses to entertain menaces from fan.

Norma Plummer is one of the true characters of the sport and it is shameful that she has been made to feel unsafe while on tour in this country, writes Johannsen. Photo / Getty Images
Norma Plummer is one of the true characters of the sport and it is shameful that she has been made to feel unsafe while on tour in this country, writes Johannsen. Photo / Getty Images

One of the most tiresome lines a sports fan can hear is "it's just sport". Watching a sporting event with someone who is disinterested can be a deeply unsatisfying experience.

There's nothing worse than finding yourself the lone voice screaming at the telly while watching an intense game, only to be sniffily told "it's just sport". And yet I found myself uttering the same words when hearing Australian coaching legend Norma Plummer has been subjected to death threats.

The Fever aren't commenting on the exact nature of the threats, but you have to assume they're quite sinister for Australian authorities to consider it serious enough to notify Dunedin police, who are still investigating the matter.

It is also safe to assume the perpetrator is lacking any grasp on perspective.

The fact that someone could feel such a level of hatred for a sporting figure that they are moved to make threats of violence is deeply sad. The fact that someone is a New Zealand fan is deeply embarrassing.

Plummer is one of the true characters of the sport and it is shameful that she has been made to feel unsafe while on tour in this country.

But this incident only further serves to demonstrate her grit. While all this unpleasantness was circulating Plummer has simply got on with the job of taking on what is an incredibly tough road trip for her Perth-based side - the Steel in Dunedin last week, followed by the Magic in Tauranga this Sunday - outwardly showing no hint of the stress she must be under. A Fever spokeswoman said Plummer would not be making any comment on the threats because "she has a job to do".

That refusal to allow herself to be distracted by these events is the same sheer bloodymindedness that makes Plummer a champion coach.

While many in netball may bristle at her outspoken style, she has been a breath of fresh air for a sport that shies away from any hint of controversy. Her frank, forthright style often jars with the perfectly cultivated image of harmony netball tries to project, but without her it would be very dull indeed.

We can only hope incidents like this will not deter the veteran coach from speaking her mind. The sport needs more Norma Plummers.

What we need at times is a healthy dose of perspective.

- NZ Herald

Dana Johannsen

Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald’s chief sports reporter

Dana has more than a decade’s experience in sports journalism, joining the Herald in 2007 following stints with TVNZ and RadioSport. Over that time Dana has covered several major events including the 2011 Netball World Cup in Singapore, 2011 Rugby World Cup, 2012-13 Volvo Ocean Race, and the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco. A multi-award winning journalist, Dana was named New Zealand Sports Journalist of the Year in 2012 after scooping both the news and feature categories at the TP McLean Awards. The previous year she picked up the prize for best news break. She was also an inaugural recipient of the Sir John Wells scholarship at the 2009 NZSJA awards. Dana also writes a weekly sports column for the NZ Herald.

Read more by Dana Johannsen

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 20 Dec 2014 19:15:08 Processing Time: 605ms