Netball And The Olympics – Should Netball Be An Olympic Sport?

why should netball be in the olympics

Posted: 27. 08. 2017

by energetic

Netball players and netball playing nations across the world have long lobbied for netball’s inclusion in the Olympic Games. Unfortunately, the International Olympic Committee hasn’t yet seen fit to include netball in the Games, but it is hoped that the highly anticipated inclusion will take place in the coming few decades. This ongoing effort raises the question: why should netball be in the Olympics?

Why should netball be an Olympic sport? 

Unfortunately, women’s sport in the Olympics has been somewhat slow to grow, and many see this as the primary reason why netball hasn’t yet been included in the Games. However, it is played by tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people across the world. Many, if not all of these players would love to see their sport get a chance on the world stage.

Other, more obscure sports have had their chance – why should netball be in the olympics?

The IOC recognition key

Before 1995, netball had no chance of being represented in the Olympic Games. It was not recognized as an Olympic sport, and therefore couldn’t be included, no matter how hard people lobbied.

Fortunately, after twenty years of hard lobbying by netball activists, the IOC gave netball Olympic recognized sport status. Since this is an essential criterion for inclusion in the games, one of the formal requirements has been met for the past 22 years.

What is the most likely path of inclusion for netball?

Although the Olympic Games has many permanent sports which will have been a part of the competition since its inception, temporary ‘exhibition’ sports are not unheard of. In fact, temporary sports are included in nearly every single Olympic Games, as the International Olympic Committee (The IOC) looks to include the most relevant disciplines in every Games.

If a sport succeeds at the temporary level, then there is a good chance that it will be accepted on a permanent basis – or that it will at least be invited back at the next games.

Many netball advocates believe that this is the most likely path of inclusion for the sport. If it was to be included as a temporary sport – and it might well be in the near future – then it is believed that it would have a good chance receiving permanency. Netball fans and players across the world have been lobbying for this for years, and would welcome it with open arms.

The biggest problem

There is one big problem facing netball, and one main reason why it is yet to be included as an Olympic sport. This is that only 28 sports are played at any one Games. With most of these permanent sports, there is only space for a couple of temporary sports at a time.

There have been rumours that the IOC is going to reduce the amount of permanent sports at the 2020 Games and beyond. This would open up more spots for temporary sports, and would dramatically increase the chances of netball getting its go.

The importance of the 2014 Commonwealth Games

The skills exhibited during the 2014 Commonwealth Games netball competition left people across the world awestruck. It left many spectators – both those who known and follow netball and those who were discovering the sport for the first time – asking the big question: why isn’t netball an Olympic sport?

It is thought that the success of netball at the 2014 Commonwealth Games should help the sport’s case when it comes to Olympic inclusion. In the end, the Olympics are really about media coverage and popularity – if a sport is popular enough, it has a very good chance of being included in the games.

Does netball have to expand first?

Many people have argued that the main reason that netball hasn’t yet been accepted into the Olympics is because it is only really played by a handful of Commonwealth nations. Although there are netball leagues in almost a hundred countries across the world, a few of these stand out as world powerhouses.

These nations include Australia, New Zealand, England, and South Africa – nations who don’t have a huge voice when it comes to the Olympic Games. It is expected that – if netball was to be included in the Games – that one of these countries would undoubtedly take home the gold medal. Countries like the USA and Russia have argued against ‘giving away’ a gold medal like this, and they may just have a point.

Thankfully, the future of netball is bright. It is one of the quickest growing sports in the world, and many countries are seeing participation rates skyrocket. If we could just see a more even world competition, rather than one dominated by a handful of countries, then the case for netball’s inclusion in the Olympic Games would be dramatically strengthened.

Will we see this happen? Only time will tell.

The equality problem

As of 2012, only 44% of Olympic athletes were women. Despite the IOC doing their best in recent years to even out the gender equality gap, they still haven’t managed to reach the magical 50%. If netball was to be included in the Games in the future, it could help to solve this problem due to the fact that it is primarily played by women.

So, will netball be included in the Olympics?

Ultimately the big question remains: will netball become an Olympic sport, and if so, when?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question remains unknown. However, the fact that netball is growing across the world, combined with the fact that it has consistently been able to pull big crowds over the past few years, suggests that the sport has a very strong case for inclusion.

Do you want to see netball at the Olympic Games? If so, why? Watch this space!

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