Nothing but Netball


One of Nerds on Sports’ loyal readers has challenged us!

Katharine wrote:
I challenge you to cover or at least mention the world netball championships
which are about to start in New Zealand. NB. There is a USA team taking part.

Not being familiar with netball, I had to do some research. The days are long gone that I could grow up learning about sport, proving a solitary common shared interest with more than one other member of the family. Nowadays, new interests in previously unfollowed sports is based upon three criteria:

  • How fun the game is to play
  • How fun the game is to watch
  • How attractive the top quintile of professional players are

It is with this in mind that I began my research, i.e., typed “netball” into Wikipedia.

Netball is a non contact sport similar to, and derived from, basketball. It is usually known as a girls’ sport.

So already, #3 has nothing to do with me. Not a good sign. My well below median height suggests that I would not enjoy playing the game, nor are there any handball courts in the immediate vicinity, so #1 is pretty much out too. Number 2 is tricky, though. I’m generally not a fan of basketball, but the game sounds different enough that it could be interesting. So let’s see what YouTube can dig up in terms of netball matches.

Lessee…pavement…pavement…quick cut to nothing in particular…pavement…turning away from the actual action…what is this, a sport or an Andy Warhol film?

I mean, if this were some parent just taping their child it’d be fine, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out which one that would be.

A little more digging around on YouTube reveals this match up between Singapore and Papua New Guinea last year. My snap judgment after one minute of observation is that netball resembles a cross between basketball and soccer. Not an altogether bad concept, I think, so I do a little more research.

The World Netball Championship is currently underway in Auckland, New Zealand. The next set of upcoming matches are the four semifinal matches, which has me confused on their use of the word “semifinal.” Looking at the tournament rules gives no clear indication of how elimination works, but…shouldn’t that be quarterfinal? Anyway, the four semifinal matches are Australia vs England; New Zealand vs Jamaica; Samoa vs South Africa; & Cook Islands vs Malawi. Mad bonus points if you can label all of those areas on a world map.

Looking at the list of teams participating in the tournament reveals that the United States does not have a team present, only two people acting as delegates and one more acting as an observer. This is unfortunate, given the amount of guff the Cook Islands have been giving us recently. But for what it’s worth, my money is on home team favorites New Zealand to win the whole tournament. They’ve got a lot of scrap, a lot of heart, and…oh, wait I was confusing them with Dustin Pedroia. Well, they’re as good a team to win as any, I guess.

But if handball is your thing, please enjoy your championship week. Lord knows the rest of us have to wait until February for our next significant championship event. Keep scoring those nets(?) and see you in Singapore in 2011!

Netball court