Sand Volleyball as an Emerging Sport
An Answer to the Override Request
There are several ways in which Sand Volleyball is unlike any other sport that has been put on the Emerging Sports List for Women. The first is simply the popularity of the sport. No other emerging sport has had the amount of television exposure, professional opportunities or marketplace presence. The second is the either real or perceived impact that popularity will have on Indoor Volleyball, a sport currently sponsored by 96% of NCAA Division I institutions.
The override request that is being circulated by the Big 12 makes several references to the popularity of Sand Volleyball among both current and prospective student-athletes. That document cites that popularity as the reason to support overriding the decision to add the sport to the Emerging Sports List. We respectfully argue that this popularity is the very reason to find legislative solutions to enable those institutions desiring to add Sand Volleyball to be able to do so, without giving them a competitive advantage in the recruitment of indoor volleyball players.
Clearly, institutions that are at proportionality do not want to be “pressured” into adding more women’s sports than they “need for equity purposes.” These schools will have little reason to add Sand Volleyball or any other emerging sport for that matter. For this reason caveats were put into the legislative recommendations that will prevent their peers from stockpiling indoor talent under the guise of sponsoring a sand team. If that protection does not go far enough, then let’s strengthen it rather than block participation opportunities at other schools.
For many institutions, Sand Volleyball provides an affordable new sport. The Financial Aid Cabinets’ recommendation of six equivalency scholarships and the caveat that aid recipients in Sand Volleyball become counters if they play on the indoor team, allow for the addition of up to fourteen aided roster spots.
The override proposal states that only schools with large budgets or west coast locations will be able to afford this sport. Clearly this was not the consensus in April. Of the twenty-three (23) conferences that voted to support Sand Volleyball’s addition to the list, twenty (20) are mid-majors and only three (3) are located on the west coast. Rather than making the rich richer, Sand Volleyball is more likely to give opportunities for national competitiveness to institutions that would never attain notoriety in the indoor game.
Certainly there are unknowns as to the impact of Sand Volleyball, an emerging sport, on Indoor Volleyball, an established sport. Recognizing this, the Committee on Women’s Athletics wisely set an implementation date of August of 2010 so institutions could deliberate as to the best way to contend with and mitigate these impacts. Further, when CWA made their recommendation in the summer of 2008, few in intercollegiate athletics anticipated the severity of the economic downturn and the subsequent effect on departmental finances. If more time is needed, then let us seek that time rather than impulsively attempt to eliminate an opportunity for women which has both merit and marketability.
Following are some of the reasons, in numbers, that Sand Volleyball was put on the Emerging Sports List for Women in July of 2008:
1. According to a Sporting Good Manufacturers Association report published in 2007, 218,184 females under the age of 18 play sand volleyball. 63% do not play indoor volleyball. Of that Sand-only group, 32,654 identify themselves as frequent participants. This is higher that the high school playing population of Equestrian (1,341), Crew (2,685), Ice Hockey (7,350), Badminton (10,888), Water Polo (17,791), and Bowling (20,931). All of these sports except Badminton are either currently on the Emerging Sports List or have since graduated to full fledged NCAA-sponsored championships.
2. If just 10% of institutions that currently sponsor an indoor team add a sand volleyball team, and each adds only 5 new participants, Sand Volleyball will eclipse 8 women’s sports currently tracked by the NCAA. If 30% add 5 new sand volleyball student-athletes, the sport will move into the top 50% in participation opportunities among all NCAA sports for women. These numbers do not include the addition of sand programs at schools that currently do not sponsor an indoor team or the double counting of cross-over student-athletes.
3. There have been professional opportunities for women in beach volleyball in the United States for over twenty years, more than any other women’s sports except golf and tennis. In a February 2009 Turnkey Sports poll reported in Sports Business Journal, women’s professional volleyball was listed as having “the biggest growth potential in the next five years” of any women’s sport including golf and tennis.
4. Beach Volleyball has been an Olympic Sport since 1996. Since introduction in Atlanta, the sport has increased in popularity with each Olympic cycle. In the 2008 Beijing Games, beach volleyball was the fourth most popular spectator sport and garnered the second highest television rating of any Olympic sport worldwide.
Thank you for supporting the addition of Sand Volleyball to the Emerging Sports List for women. Please work with us to find the right legislative mix that will allow this sport to flourish while protecting the competitive equity of the indoor game.
Proposals for the management of Sand Volleyball are currently coming out of the various cabinets. Institutions and conferences have until July 15 to add amendments and/or variations for consideration in the 2009 legislative cycle. Bailing out on a popular women’s sport is not the answer. Please contact the American Volleyball Coaches Association with your suggestions, concerns and feedback.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Last week, http://www.ultimatesportsinsider.com/ wrote about the Big XII Conference's campaign to seek an override vote at the NCAA convention regarding the establishment of sand volleyball as an emerging sport for women. The NCAA has now received enough petitions for such a vote.
After the initial post and the successful petition, Kathy DeBoer, Executive Director of the America Volleyball Coaches Association contacted ultimatesportsinsider.com asking for an opportunity to present a case in favor of the sport. I have agreed to let her use this forum to present the Association's view.
From Kathy DeBoer, American Volleyball Coaches Association: