Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

She's Got Game: Sexism at play with netball rule change

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander believes the push to introduce a two-point shot in the new Australian domestic league is sexism at play.

Despite widespread opposition from high profile players, coaches and fans, Netball Australia is preparing to implement the new rule in 2018, after bowing to pressure from their broadcast partner Channel 9.

The TV network had been pushing to bring the new rule in for the inaugural season next year, but Netball Australia officials were able to put plans on hold, citing the need for further examination of the impact of the rule. However, it is understood the rule change is a "done deal" for 2018.

Alexander is angry the rule, which she describes as counterproductive to her national programme, is being pushed through at the behest of (predominantly male) broadcast bosses.

She believes sexist attitudes towards netball still prevail among TV executives.

"There's a little bit of a feminist angle to that in that I don't particularly like males taking control of how our game progresses," Alexander told She's Got Game.

"The game has been built from the ground up by many strong women over the years, in both Australia and New Zealand and we need to respect the visionary women that have looked after the game so well and continued to grow it."

The announcement back in May that Netball Australia had secured a five-year broadcast agreement with Channel 9 was hailed as a landmark moment for the sport with it being the first time the national body had secured a paid deal.

But they have quickly learned that money comes at its own cost. Channel 9 now have a big stake in the game and quite understandably want to have a say in how it is run.

If Netball Australia want to appeal to broader audiences, that means taking on the viewpoints of men.

Alexander acknowledges it is important that the sport involves men as much as possible, but she believes the phenomenal growth of the sport over the past few years proves that they already have a winning product.

"I think we first need to sell our game as it currently as with its rules in place. There is a huge market out there for it already," said Alexander

"Many men do actually like the game as it is. What's happening is we are listening to people in certain positions of power, who aren't necessarily the barometer of the whole market."

Alexander said she remains hopeful there may be a backdown on the changes.

"I certainly hope [there will be a backdown], I have put through my views as national coach that it's completely counterproductive to preparing a national team for international competition, which will be different to the rules in the domestic league," she said.

"We need to listen to the whole community, not just the noisy minority in the broadcast power positions."

- NZ Herald

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