American Beach Volleyball in 2011

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What Went Right:

It exists. Sounds simple, but with the way things ended last summer, there were no guarantees there would be anything in the States to watch in 2011. That is an admittedly low bar, but that is where the sport is right now, and existence was a hurdle we cleared. We can debate about the level of the tournaments, but we should be grateful that there were tournaments here to debate.

Several Tours. We have a sport that may not be in a great place right now, but the people who love it really did step up and try to fill the void left by the AVP.

We had three tours operating on abbreviated schedules allowing American players several opportunities to compete on their own soil. In the end, The Corona Light Wide Open, The National Volleyball League and USAV/IMG put on a total of 12 tournaments between May and September and the AVP is planning to run one final event in late October.

Attempting to Co-Exist. Beach volleyball has always been a kill or be killed kind of sport. But this year, we had four different entities willing to work together for the good of the sport. In interviews each of the tour operators – CLWO, USAV/IMG and NVL – asserted that they wanted everyone to succeed and weren’t going to try to stomp each other out of existence. Even the AVP, previously the primary aggressor, said it would cooperate. More tournaments were good for the sport and it appears that each made an effort to play nice.

What Went Wrong:

Scheduling Conflicts. Despite the intention to work together, tensions rose when schedule shifting led to overlapping tournaments.

The blame game is a tough habit to shake and fingers started to point again as they always seem to do in this sport. Whether the conflicts were intentional or not, they were taken as such in a few cases and relationships may have been damaged. How that will affect next year’s spirit of cooperation is to be determined.

Communication. In the flurry of activity that had to occur to get these tours going on short notice, very little information was flowing out to the media, fans and sometimes even the athletes. It seems that the tours didn’t adequately communicate with each other either. This might have been purposeful, but it didn’t help matters any and can be cited as the heart of many of the problems we saw play out. Events were not well publicized and some were poorly attended. Fans were forced to speculate amongst themselves about what was going on and many resented it.

Players Unable to Make a Living. We knew this would be the case with the decrease in capital flowing into the sport, but it still warrants a mention. The small purses from the tournaments this summer forced the top athletes to play almost exclusively overseas. Their departure hurt the attendance at domestic events and likely sponsor accrual as well. The remaining players had to bite and scratch to survive, many found day jobs. If this persists, the development pool for talent in this country will greatly diminish.

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