June 18, 2008

Collegiate Beach Volleyball

There has been recent support and enthusiasm for the idea of a NCAA sport called Women's Beach Volleyball. This enthusiasm has now reached the level that the AVCA is pushing to have the NCAA recognize Beach Volleyball as an "emerging" sport for women.

I had written about this topic in an earlier post - A very bad idea for NCAA Womens Volleyball. This emerging sport will be funded at the expense of indoor volleyball. Even with the addition of NCAA funds because of the "emerging" title, the mass majority of schools are not going to create new funding for beach volleyball. The funding will come at the expense of indoor volleyball.

Just take a look at the national economy - we are in a recession and oil seems to be going nowhere but up. The housing market in not good, the stock market is in a bear period and unemployment is on the rise. When this is the economy of the country, donations to athletics tend to shrink, and those donations which come to an athletic department are going to be spent on football and basketballs.

Let's be pragmatic about this sport - Beach Volleyball is going to be supported by current indoor players and staff. An athletic department will not create a full time position called Beach Volleyball Coach. A current assistant coach will probably be given a small stipend and a title, then be in charge of Beach Volleyball. Will this new position be empowered to recruit all across the USA and the world evaluating talent? No, they will just find the best couple of players on the team to play Beach Volleyball. The money spent on this new sport, will be money that should have been provided to indoor volleyball.

The AVCA and all coaches should be pushing for better support of NCAA Women's Volleyball, not the emergence of a hybrid sport. We need better marketing support, coaches need more money, assistants should be paid well enough that they don't have to coach club and work way too many camps to pay the bills. I guarantee you that money which could have and should have been earmarked for Women's Volleyball, will now be split into Beach Volleyball. With today's economy, both Volleyballs will not be increased - only one.

Beach Volleyball is great to play and to watch. So is Frisbee, so is Over the Line, I love playing flag football, synchronized swimming is huge in the Olympics, rhythmic gymnastics draws full stands. If you are a Beach Volleyball fan, then this a great thing - more beach volleyball.

If you are a supporter of making NCAA Women's Volleyball into a Flagship sport, then this should be the last thing you support. It just illustrates our provincial attitude when it comes to the sport that pays our bills and supports our employment future. Exactly how many "new" female athletes will Beach Volleyball bring into the NCAA realm? Again, current athletes will just slip into the Beach Volleyball uniform.

My greatest fear is that Beach Volleyball will be supported by the NCAA and actually become wildly popular. We will be like the USA National Teams - relegated to second place behind beach volleyball. It would be ironic, that the emerging sport becomes the most popular sport and the traditional sport of indoor volleyball will be enjoying even less television time (because the networks would rather show beach volleyball - just like with the National Team), even less funding (the member schools have to support the "emerging sport" within this tough economy), the coaches will be working more hours (again, the Beach Volleyball coach will come from within the current indoor program) and there will be even less females coaching in volleyball (the Beach Volleyball coach will not be a supported employment opportunity and if an assistant gets assigned this job, he/she will now have even more duties for proportionately less money).

Amazing how we are our own worst enemy - Does anyone see Football, Men's Basketball or Women's Basketball supporting any "emerging" sports? NO - they are ONLY concerned with making their sport the best it can be!