Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Beach Is Closed

July 21, 1983 - August 13,2010

It was a sad day on a personal level when I learned the news that the AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) was forced to suspend operations and prematurely end the 2010 season due to financial hardships.

Commissioner Mike Dodd had this statement following the announcement:
"Through the course of this investor search we have encountered individuals and groups with intelligence, common sense and a passion for the game of beach volleyball," said Mike Dodd, AVP commissioner. "Unfortunately, the time constraints were such that pulling the trigger on the amount of money necessary to salvage this season were too great. Ironically this sad news comes as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Manhattan Open, our sport’s crown jewel and the one event that showed us all we could dream big. The Open has seen its ups and downs over the years and always persevered. I’m sure our sport will do the same."

This was a tough thing to hear but also a tough thing to learn. It was nearly a week before I was even aware that this decision was made which I was a little put off by. The first that I had heard of this news was that I got an SI alert that involved Keri Walsh’s name when she threatened to boycott the revamped Manhattan Beach Open because the beach volleyball tournament won’t be played under the accepted international rules.

Until that point I was unaware that the AVP was no more. The fact that there was no news reports I guess speaks to just how niche the sport really is. Volleyball is far from easy to find on the TV dial and only for 1-2 hours every few weeks could you find one or the other Men’s or Women's finals on ABC. You can almost never find Indoor matches even during the times when the World Championships are on.
Unfortunately for the sport people only see it every 4 years at the Olympics and when it is out of sight it is out of mind. It is too bad I always looked forward to when there were games on the tube. Hopefully some more FIVB tour games will be televised in Canada/US but only time will tell. It would be best if they could get a real strong title sponsor and could make the AVP financially viable but that could be tough.

Beach volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1996 and it was helped by the quality of play and players on the AVP tour that helped bring the sport to the foreground.

A committed group, a strong title sponsor and network help will all have to come together to get this back up and running and keep it strong. There is a lot of talent on the beach and unless these games are going to be played on North American TV and on North American soil and not just overseas.

As a fan and a televised sports viewer I cross my fingers that there will be more Volleyball on TV, ether on the beach, indoor, NCAA, International - whatever.

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