Volleyball: This Fast-Growing Sport Serves Up Fun and Profit

By Kaldy, Joanne | Parks & Recreation, April 1995 | Go to article overview

Volleyball: This Fast-Growing Sport Serves Up Fun and Profit


Kaldy, Joanne, Parks & Recreation


It fills the pages of Sports Illustrated. You see it on MTV. And you can read about its stars in People magazine. It's one of the hottest trends in America today. It's volleyball. Volleyball? Yes, the sport that used to be the strict domain of company picnics and backyard get-togethers has become a favorite activity of millions of people of all ages. It's launched its own stars, such as Randy Stoklos. And it has launched a very profitable business for many more.

For those parks and recreation departments that have not yet jumped on the volleyball bandwagon, it's not too late. Small departments and large alike can position themselves to take advantage of the volleyball boom that is sweeping the nation.

Looking Back: History of

Volleyball

Volleyball originally was called "mintonette" by YMCA director William C. Morgan, the man credited with inventing volleyball in 1895. He developed the game "in an attempt to meet the needs of local businessmen who found the game of basketball to be too strenuous."(1) Because it required only a few basic skills and could be mastered easily by players with a variety of fitness levels, the game caught on quickly. The name was changed to "volleyball" in 1896 by Alfred T. Halstead.

Over the years, the game has progressed and has changed in status from that of a pure recreational game to one that is both strenuous and competitive. The game has developed some unique characteristics. For example, the spike was added to the game by Filipinos.

Today, volleyball attracts "all types of players-recreational to competitive, little skilled to highly skilled - and all ages."(1.) The game has appeal because it is fairly easy to master and can be played on a variety of surfaces. Additionally, the sport requires a minimum of equipment and other gear, which gives it an advantage over many other sports that stress the need for expensive equipment and clothing.

From Popular Fun to

Serious Sport

For many years volleyball was a popular group activity at picnics, backyard barbecues, playgrounds, and school yards. In many ways, it was as much of a social activity as it was a sport. People of all ages and levels of skill could play together, with a minimum of preparation or equipment.

In recent years, however, volleyball has caught on as a competitive sport as well. And the sport's popularity has grown, thanks to increased exposure through the Olympics (the U.S. has won gold medals in this sport in recent years), network-televised tournaments, and volleyball tournaments and games shown on MTV.

Additionally, fit and happy young people can be seen playing volleyball and enjoying life on beer commercials, soft drink commercials, and lots of other youth-oriented advertising.

Today, volleyball still is played by people who just want to have some fun and/or get a little exercise. But it also is considered a serious sport that requires athletic conditioning, training, and skills. USA Volleyball, the national governing body for the sport in the U.S., has more than 90,000 registered members competing in leagues and tournaments across the country. This legion of "hard-core" players are among the reported 2.8 million Americans playing the sport at some organized level.

According to USA Volleyball, there are between 500 and 700 adult volleyball clubs in the U.S., with participation ranging from "after-work recreational" teams to highly competitive teams who compete in leagues. There are between 1,100 and 1,200 junior volleyball clubs nationwide. Some of these clubs have become training camps for young volleyball players seeking athletic scholarships. The junior system also is punctuated with highly competitive leagues, some of which publish standings and statistics regularly during the season.

USA Volleyball alone sponsors approximately 4,000 tournaments annually, approximately 90% of which are one-day events drawing anywhere from 15-35 teams. …

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