LETTER : Netball has a lot to answer for

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I READ with interest Steve Bruce's article ("Net losses before the gains", Sport, 16 July) on the lack of support for the international netball championships in the same week as a major initiative encouraging participation in sport in schools and into adult life.

Netball is a prime example of a game forced upon schoolgirls which the vast majority are only too glad to shun for the rest of their lives. If, between the ages of 12 and 16, you had the temperament to conform to its rigid rules and managed to cope with being barked at every two minutes by a neo-Nazi in the guise of a female PE teacher, then you could be blessed with the key to the many privileges bestowed upon the netball team elite.

On the other hand, if you felt constrained by such a game and would have preferred a more varied and imaginative approach to keeping fit but, as in many schools, no outlet was available, then a sense of frustration and isolation quickly developed. It is this approach to school sports that causes many people to turn their back on sports participation for life. It is not that they have an inbuilt aversion to exercise but that the experiences of failure and ridicule from schooldays are too clear a memory. My concern is that if pupils are given yet more encouragement to participate in competitive sports for which they have no talent and no interest, the empty arenas will become an even more common occurrence.

Anne Hutchinson

Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear