February 21, 2008

Collegiate Beach Volleyball

College Volleyball coaches constantly use the word focus when speaking with their team - focus on having a good practice, focus on improving your passing, focus on our side of the net, focus on this game, etc. I believe that referencing the idea of focus is a good thing for players and teams - it tends to keep the attention on what can be controlled and does not allow distractions to lead us away from our goals.

When I read about the coming Collegiate Beach Volleyball tournaments that are being sponsored by Conferences and the NCAA (read about it
here), I can only think that women's college volleyball has lost its focus.

Please allow me to list what concerns me:

1. We have so many obstacles to overcome to achieve the goal of Women's Volleyball becoming a Flagship NCAA sport, that to expend any energy on Beach Volleyball is counter productive. In fact, it is stupid.

2. The money's being spent by the Conferences and NCAA to promote and administer these events, could be allocated to supporting indoor volleyball.

3. Beach Volleyball is traditionally played by 2 people and with even an alternate player on each team, there are no expanded opportunities for women's athletes. It is not as if the athletic departments are going to create separate beach volleyball teams.

4. It demeans the image of indoor volleyball; because these events will be played by college volleyball teams, these teams and schools will now be associated with young females in bikini's playing on the beach. Is this really the ideal that we wish to promote for women's college volleyball?

5. It is a gimmick and gimmicks do not work, they just look silly.

6. Women's College Basketball pushed through a NCAA support package that specifically provides money to schools from the NCAA to promote and market Women's Basketball with the objective to increase fan attendance and create a positive, entertaining environment. We support putting our players into swim suits and playing doubles on the beach.

7. Misty May and Carrie Walsh have demonstrated that there is no crossover between beach volleyball being popular and indoor volleyball being popular. May and Walsh are huge in the beach volleyball world and on television (Fox Sports mainly), but I have not seen an increase in the television or popularity of indoor volleyball, most notably the USA National Teams, because beach volleyball is popular.

8. Do we see Football and Basketball engaging in any time of 'emerging sport' culture? I doubt they would support flag football or 3 on 3 street ball basketball as an emerging sport. They understand it does not enhance their sports and would not allow resources to be allocated to these events that could be spent on their own sports.

I spent 5 years as a touring member of the AVP pro beach tour - I really enjoy playing beach volleyball and think it is a fabulous sport. But, as a NCAA Women's Volleyball coach, I know that this will do nothing to help the growth and image of Women's Volleyball.

We are not being focused on what is important - upgrading Women's Volleyball.