Netball knickers

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 13:43 10/03/2012

Netball knickers.

This is dangerous territory for any sports reporter, particularly a male one, but I won't shirk a tough assignment.

The print media often cop a hiding from sections of the netball public who believe we spend too much time huddled in photographers' darkrooms slavering over photos of netballers with their underwear showing, feverishly hunting out the most salacious image to run in the following day's paper.

The reality couldn't be further from the truth - newspapers don't have darkrooms anymore.

A mate of mine was considered a serial offender in this regard and I could spend the rest of this column defending him and regaling you about great images that we had to pass over because they were too ``cheeky'', or worse, but I won't bother because half of you won't believe me and the other half won't care.

Honestly, the number of knicker shots which appear in this newspaper during the netball season is entirely a function of the hemlines the players employ these days.

If we were to bring in a blanket boycott of photos which show underwear, our photos would be limited to the players being introduced in their tracksuits.

To be fair, it doesn't always look that way live or on television, but still photography is pretty brutal in this regard.

Netball dresses are exceptionally short - it's a comfort thing apparently - and netball has become increasingly dynamic. That means the players jump up and down a lot.

The best pics are of players at full stretch and the result is no surprise.

From what I've been told the old ``boxers v briefs'' debate is something which gets mirrored in netball changing rooms up and down the country with players in differing camps over what is the most comfortable form of undergarment delivery.

A few years ago an Otago team made up of vivacious personalities including Silver Fern Anna Stanley caused something of a stir by branding their underwear.

It does seem to be an area of wasted commercial space.

The ANZ Championship has strict rules about the placement of sponsor endorsements on team uniforms.

It's unclear if there's anything covering knickers, but it certainly is not encouraged. In fact, netball should be applauded for the way it has promoted its game at the top levels without trudging down a wellworn path and relying on sex to sell their product.

It would have been very easy to resort to that in a crowded media market where women's sport  basically needs to be played in a bikini to get any attention.

By sticking to the high road netball can, with clear conscience, promote itself as a wholesome option to an impressionable, youthful audience.

Those scolds who would claim we are denigrating the game by portraying athletic women competing at the highest level should point their nagging fingers in other directions.

nathan.burdon@stl.co.nz
Twitter: @nathanburdon

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