So Whats that About Equality?

Hayley Holt is making a fool of herself. You may think there is nothing new there, but in this instance, she has got it wrong and has failed to see the irony of her position. We are talking about our national netball team, the Silver Ferns, playing a men’s netball team. It obviously came as a big surprise to Hayley that the men won. There is nothing surprising in this for most of us. As good, athletic and strong as the Silver Ferns are, a team of men will just about always beat them. It comes down to physiology more than anything.

It has become so bad that Hayley has been rightly accused of discriminating against men’s sport, basically because she did not get the result that she wanted.

Equality in sport is a hot topic and it’s got even more sweltering following a fiery on-air debate between Hayley Holt and Scotty Stevenson.

But this time it’s the men that are allegedly being discriminated against.

Stevenson, a TVNZ sports journalist, has accused colleague and Breakfast presenter Holt of discriminating against men’s netball.

The heated exchange began when Holt raised the subject of the New Zealand men’s invitational team’s 54-50 victory over the Silver Ferns from the previous night on Friday.

The men were always going to win. There was never any question about it. Imagine if Venus Williams played Roger Federer. Or Lydia Ko played Tiger Woods. The women would be thrashed. Everyone knows it, except Hayley.

Before she could get started, an enthusiastic Stevenson jumped in: “How good?”

Holt was immediately confused by his excitement.
“How good that game last night,” Stevenson said. “It was soo good.”
Holt was quick to disagree, labelling the game “weird”.
“Unfortunately for the Silver Ferns, they don’t need men to actually push them anymore because they get pushed by everybody,” Holt rebutted.

Well, clearly the training team does not agree with you, Hayley, so I guess you will be taking up a role with the Ferns coaching team soon?

And this is where the spirited on-air debate really got going with Stevenson unable to control his shock at his colleague’s stance.
“So the New Zealand men’s team who never get television coverage, who are not recognised by the international netball federation, get the chance to play on the biggest stage against these Silver Ferns and you’re saying it’s a bad idea?”
“Bad idea,” Holt replies. 
“They’re taller, they’re heavier, they can throw the ball harder, I just think it’s weird,” she said.

I think it is great that men’s netball got a shot in the arm as a result of playing the Ferns. Aren’t we always going on about women’s rugby and cricket… how more people need to watch it and support the girls? It is a different story, obviously when a women’s team gets overshadowed. That is just not playing fair.

“So you think that’s not great preparation for the Silver Ferns to go into a World Cup having played a real talented opposition, putting them under pressure, being taller, being more physical?”
To which Holt replied: “Alright sports guy”.
It’s at this point, Breakfast presenter Daniel Faitaua joins the party, from off camera, with support for Stevenson’s side.
“I think Hayley’s just discriminating against men,” Faitaua chimed in.

‘All right, sports guy’? What kind of a response was that? The sort that you make when you are losing an argument, perhaps?

Of course she was discriminating against men. That sort of behaviour has gone unchecked for years. It is always okay if the girls do it.

“That is a disgrace,” Stevenson says of Holts argument.

“They get no coverage, they get no support for their sport,” he continues.

“Oh those poor men getting no coverage, this is like welcome to our world. Seriously, welcome to our world,” Holt replies.
It’s at this point Stevenson retorted: “It’s amazing when it’s a female sport on the other side of the conversation, look at the reaction.”


‘Welcome to our world’? So Hayley is saying that because women’s rugby and cricket gets little coverage and support, men’s netball should be treated the same way? A tit-for-tat?

It turns out that the coaching team and most of the players thought the games against the men’s netball team were an excellent training exercise for the Ferns in their World Cup buildup. Certainly, they were forced to work very hard for every point in those games.

But Hayley knows best. And her attitude would have been very different if the men had lost, of course.

Still, one good thing has come out of this. For the first time in a long time, discrimination against men has not gone unchecked. Let’s hope that this is the beginning of a reversal in attitudes towards men in general.

And Hayley really should go and coach the Silver Ferns. At least that would get her off our screens every day.