by Mike Hebert
And finally, I have to say something about the quality of the ever-increasing volume of volleyball broadcasts (radio, TV, and internet streaming) that have become available. I find myself conflicted. As an old timer who never thought our game would be on TV or radio I can only offer praise to those who have made it happen. But somewhere, somehow we have to add a quality control piece to the puzzle.
With few exceptions, our broadcasters know very little about the game. And the expert color analysts? Please!!! I don’t know who to blame. Is it the producers who don’t understand our game well enough to hire competent on-air talent? Is it lack of preparation by the broadcasters? I don’t know. But I do know that watching a volleyball broadcast can sometimes have the feel of fingernails scratching a blackboard.
Let me give you an example:
But if you have been watching the match you would have noticed that Team B has been double-teaming Team A’s Outside Hitter all night, leaving the Middle Hitter completely open. They wanted to stop the outside attack and were not concerned about the minimal damage the middle hitter could inflict. In other words, it was Team B’s intention to leave Team A’s middle hitter unblocked. It was not a blocking mistake, as the expert analyst would have us believe.
Blocking strategies of this type are frequently used in the college game. How can the “expert commentator” not be aware of them and fail to add them to the match analysis? Yikes!
Other broadcasting atrocities that I have witnessed:
• Play by play person doesn’t know referee signals and tells us that there is a net violation when, in fact, it
• Expert commentator alleges that Team A is committing too many service errors, despite the fact that Team A can only win the match if they serve tough and take risks.
• Commentators appeared puzzled when a team employed the short serve for tactical reasons. Instead, they question why a team would send over such an easy ball to pass.
• Why did they take Carol out of the match? She is their best player! He was unaware that Carol was routinely subbed out in the back row in favor of a smaller defensive player.
• This same commentator later pleaded for the block to “move in” because the hitters were getting good cross court swings. She seemed unaware that this particular team routinely took away line and gave angle, trusting their excellent libero, playing left back, to routinely dug that ball. Add to the equation that they also lacked good defensive play from their right back defenders and you will find an additional reason to take line and give angle.
This is not difficult stuff. It is at the same level as a basketball analyst wondering why the free throw shooter faces the hoop instead of lining up with his back to the basket.
We are breaking through the anti-volleyball firewall. People are beginning to watch and listen to our sport. These radio, TV and Internet images can accelerate volleyball’s popularity. Wouldn’t it be nice of our on-air talent could take it up a notch and get beyond, “The libero is the player with a different colored jersey!”
So there you have it. My brief list of volleyball pet peeves.
Let me leave you with a final word. Many of you will certainly think the reading of this piece as a frivolous use of time. And I can understand that. Nobody likes a complainer. So to make it more palatable, think of it this way.
While recently watching Andy Rooney’s final appearance on CBS’ 60 Minutes television program I was reminded how easily he managed through the years to share with us his personal pet peeves. He did so in such a benevolent fashion that we were actually entertained by his curmudgeon-like style, never feeling like we were watching a serial whiner and complainer. This became his signature. Andy Rooney, skipping along in life, making sure to notice things that bugged him along the way, and reporting his findings to us every Sunday evening.
I’m no Andy Rooney. But it is in this spirit that I share with you some of the items that landed on my pet peeve list during my time in volleyball. Or not.