You may have heard about the controversy that is unfolding in the netball world in South Africa. While you suspend your disbelief – yes, netball can be controversial – wrap your head around this little incident.
Just this last Thursday the Central Gauteng netball team, composed entirely of black players, beat Boland, composed of black and white players, by 41 points to 39. But you see: outscoring and actually outplaying Boland wasn’t enough for Central Gauteng to walk away with a victory. After the game the losing side was awarded six extra goals because their team met the mind-boggling racial quotas that are imposed by Netball South Africa (NSA). So, Boland who had lost the game…won the game 45-41.
“Ahhh” you all coo. This nonsense isn’t just reserved for real sports like rugby and cricket.
The NSA’s racial quota requirements state that a team composed of 12 players must maintain a ratio of 7 black players and 5 white players, or 7 white players and 5 black players. If a team adheres to this requirement they are award 5 points on their entry into a tournament. The second requirement is that during any game a team is required to maintain a split of 5 black players to 2 white players, or vice versa, on the court to win an extra six goals in a game.
NSA vice-president Blanche de la Guerre attempted to defend the policy that has been in place since 1996,
“We found that minority players in certain regions, whether they be black or white, were being left out of teams and our policy is to make it as easy as possible for players to play netball,”
But you see, Blanche, you’re not really making it easier for people to play netball because you’ve changed the rules of the game. Now you don’t just score a goal when you get the ball through the hoop; you score goals by jumping through the racial quota hoops that the NSA has set up. Your meddling has essentially politicised a sport which should be about skill, ability and team work. Now game plans become about who to field to avoid being penalised – not who to field to ensure goals are scored.
I feel real sympathy for teams who go out to play knowing that they are already 6 points down. They are not only playing against the other team, they’re playing against politics – a much nastier opponent.