Mike's Minute: No netball prize money because it's a globally insignificant sport

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Jul 2019, 9:23AM

Mike's Minute: No netball prize money because it's a globally insignificant sport

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Jul 2019, 9:23AM

COMMENT:

"No prize money," reported the New Zealand Herald.

Our girls have won the Netball World Cup and there are no financial riches to go with it. It's a funny thing, isn't it? The way we deal with our own wee world, and how we translate it out to the wider world, assuming what we do matters.

Of course the contrast was drawn to the cricketers, who just one week earlier had failed to do what the women had done and come second - and yet for that effort they collected $3 million. Once again a strange reaction trying to join a couple of dots that could never be joined.

And in these examples might be a clue as to why we get so confused, and sometimes upset, about sport.

Firstly netball, and this is to take nothing away from the Silver Ferns or what they did, but netball is a globally insignificant sport. It is played by next to no one and even of those who play, the vast majority are no good. There are in fact only about two or three teams at any given time on the whole planet that are actually good at the sport, and we happen to be one of them.

But the point is, the money follows the crowds, it follows the TV rights, the ticket sales, and the size of the audience. Netball simply isn't in the big league.

The same way cricket isn't in the big league globally. It's bigger than netball, because it has heritage, and it has the subcontinent, which has over a billion obsessed people following it.

That's why NBA basketballer Steven Adams earns $40 million a year. He's in a globally significant game, in a globally and commercially significant league. It's why Kiwi golfer Ryan Fox, if he'd converted his first round back nine at The Open into a few more record breaking nines, would have won about $3 million. All the money for himself the cricketers had to split. And further, The Open's purse is the lowest of the golf majors.

Boxer Joseph Parker, when he was on his game and in front of Anthony Joshua, was getting all of that combined and more. And should he have won, given boxing is a pay per view affair he'd be pulling tens of millions every fight.

But equally there are Kiwis out there each weekend in various corners of the globe plying their trade. Sometimes beating fields, setting records, personal bests, and sometimes even dominating their pursuits, and yet they not only earn nothing, they don't even get recognised.

Sport is a business, it's that simple. And there are different models and different ways of generating income, but all of them need to be in front of hundreds of millions, not handfuls.

Which, by the way, is why we get so messed up with women's sport. It's not gender bias - it's crowd and broadcasting bias. They don't pull the crowds, or the deals. That's not gender, just the bottom line.

If the Silver Ferns had beaten China in the semis, then pipped the United States by a goal, and America had stopped to watch the final, then you'd have prize money.

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