Netball:PLAY IT SAFE !

Essay by dawood July 2004

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SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Every week more than a million Australians take to the playing courts of this wide brown land to enjoy a healthy game of netball.

But from this week, if you are a fit, young female -- as the overwhelming majority of netball players are -- you will have to take extra precautions if you want to keep playing the game.

Last Sunday -- in arguably another example of "litigation-threat" driving society slowly mad -- Australia's Netball Association banned pregnant players from taking part in any on-court activities.

The association says a research paper written by its president had found there was "a lack of medical evidence to support the anecdotal precedents which imply that pregnant women are 'safe' to play certain sports".

The association says the decision has been taken "with the best interest of the pregnant player, the unborn baby and the association in mind".

Critics rush to attack decision

The reaction has been as swift and furious as any top-class game of netball could ever be.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) described the decision as "ridiculous".

It said all its evidence shows there is no problem with pregnant women playing sports such as netball, even up to an advanced stage of pregnancy.

Sports Medicine Australia also condemned the move.

It said the ban sends the wrong message about pregnancy and sport, needlessly discouraging women from continuing an exercise program throughout pregnancy.

Possible breach of discrimination legislation

Even the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has bought into the debate.

Commission spokeswoman Sally Moyle said she is concerned the ban may violate the spirit of federal sex discrimination legislation.

"We'd be concerned that the spirit of our legislation would be breached if there were a blanket ban imposed whereby women who face no particular extra...