With the Tokyo Olympics, finally, upon us, netball fans everywhere are again scratching their heads as to why our sport remains left out.
The announcement of the Brisbane Olympics 2032 has created some momentum around how to have netball included by then.
This isn’t a piece about how netball can be included as an Olympic sport or why it isn’t already.
My plans for netball receiving the recognition it deserves simply cannot wait another four years, let alone 11.
I make content for netball fans just like me.
We love our sport, its players and commentators. We want to see it succeed and hold valuable opinions around how it could be better.
Sadly, we are also used to having our opinions ignored or disregarded.
I’m aware for this reason some things are out of our control, at least for the moment.
We can only stop using so many plastic straws while corporations continue to produce 275 metric tonnes a year – that kind of thing.
But I’m still a firm believer in our potential as individuals and that together we make a powerful team.
Here’s what I think netball fans just like you and I can do to give our sport the best possible chance to thrive and succeed.
Don’t gatekeep netball
As someone who regularly makes a fool of myself on the internet out of love for my sport, I cannot stress this enough: Netball content creators can and should co-exist.
I think everyone apart from Rupert Murdoch would agree no one should hold a monopoly of any type of content.
A growing presence in this area is awesome for the fruition of our sport, especially when it’s done in fresh and exciting ways.
And if, as a content creator, growing the sport isn’t at the heart of everything you do, I can’t help but question your motive.
I think being hardcore fans we can also be guilty of having a sense of entitlement at times. If someone with beginner’s knowledge shows interest in the sport, don’t scare them off.
Not all of us are going to know what colour headband Ash Braz wore in Round 11 and that’s okay.
I’m going to sound like a broken record but more really is merrier when it comes to building our netball legion. Everyone starts their fan journey somewhere and everyone should be welcomed.
Call out errors in the media when you see it
I know I just finished saying we should embrace new fans and now I’m telling you to call out errors but hear me out because this is different.
One thing I think we can easily do to boost the profile of both our sport and its players is to let sportswriters know about errors in their work and ask them to fix them.
Netball fans know how often we are presented with careless reporting of our sport:
Incorrect names of players, players listed as playing for the wrong team, captions of Jo Weston apparently shooting a goal at the World Cup.
Unfortunately, as much as some may try to downplay this, it’s a big deal.
On a larger scale, sloppy reporting of our sport contributes to players missing out on sponsorships and our sport missing out on potential new fans, and in turn, money.
Sportswriters should know better and it’s important that we let them know our expectations by calling it out.
Celebrate #WorldClass behaviour
While it’s important to acknowledge some don’t always get it right, it’s important we keep the same energy for those that do.
We saw an outpouring of respect and admiration from netball fans to News Breakfast’s Tony Armstrong, after he affirmed his commitment to carry on Paul Kennedy’s legacy of adequate netball coverage.
Paying homage to the iconic Lisa Alexander, throwing our support around this kind of #WorldClass behaviour is positive reinforcement of the best kind.
Netball fans are spoilt for choice with quality writers with a genuine love for our sport.
Journalists such as Megan Maurice (@meganmaurice), Erin Delahunty (@della79) and Brittany Carter (@_BrittanyCarter) are regularly doing the hard yards churning out important and relevant netball pieces to the mainstream media.
If you come across a piece of netball writing and love it, like it and retweet it. Share it to Facebook and send it to a friend. It doesn’t work to only call out the bad if we don’t support the good as well.
Raise Your Voice
I’m not talking about the outstanding 2004 Hilary Duff movie. I’m talking about you!
Since growing my modest social media following with relatable netball TikToks, I have received countless messages about how gratifying it is to see “Being An Adult Who Is Obsessed With Netty” normalised.
Others who don’t know the sport as well give feedback like “I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I want to learn!”
Don’t discount what putting yourself out there can do to grow our fanbase and the sport.
If creating stuff isn’t your cup of tea, that’s okay too!
Jump on social media and follow every single netball player/team/commentator you come across.
Think of it as signing a petition.
With every single follower that ticks over, we are making a powerful statement about just how many of us are out there.
Every little bit counts.