by David Portney
As I was out on vacation enjoying the Fourth of July holiday, AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer left an interesting article on my desk. A report from LJWorld.com released on Independence Day said that volleyball is now the second most played team sport in the country behind basketball, with baseball being moved down to third and outdoor soccer fourth.
You can check out the article here: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2011/jul/04/search-americas-game-other-sports-activities-chall/
So here's the million dollar question: Ho do we translate this apparent high rate of participation into higher viewership and dollars?
It seems that today's youth (and yesterday's for that matter) are more interested in playing it than watching people play it, unlike football, where the vast majority of the consumers never played in an organized league or school format. Why are there those differences?
The answer is simple. Many studies have shown that males simply watch more sports on TV than females. With volleyball being a sport dominated by girls and women, we all know men aren't tuning into volleyball at the same rate as male-dominated sports.
So is it a matter of the volleyball community needing to convince men that volleyball is worth watching or do we go after the females? Both will be tall tasks. The women's volleyball season is in the fall, directly competing not only with the NFL (you can bank on the season happening), but with college football as well. I think we're all smart enough to know there is nothing we can say to those fans that would convince them to change the channel on those respective Saturdays and Sundays.
It looks like our best hope is to face the girls and women and beg and plead for them to not only play the sport of volleyball, but consume the sport as well. The more money that's pumped into the sport at all levels, the better off we all are. Keep in mind, TV networks, venders, big businesses follow the money trail without caring what the sport is. With big business comes a better overall volleyball life for players, parents and fans alike...so tune in and open those wallets!