Friday the 13th struck volleyball hard this year. Today, the AVP announced that it is “suspending operations“. In layman’s terms, the season is canceled and there is a good chance the AVP, a public company, may go bankrupt (the stock is currently trading at $0.02 per share). Hans Stoflus offers some great insight from his perspective: End of Days.
What impact will this play on the world’s second most popular sport? Failure is not always a negative. It will give the opportunity for other American tours like the Corona Light Wide Open, the U.S. Open of Beach Volleyball, the MVP, EVP, East End Volleyball, and all the other “smaller” tours a real test of their business models. These tours have insight into being a semi-profitable entity BEFORE major sponsorships. The new competition to attract the elite athlete to play on their tour will force these tours to be savvy, creative, and smart. The tour that provides the best product to the players AND the sponsors are the ones that will become the next AVP (ironically, not the AVP Next).
Beach volleyball in America isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it is only growing on the grassroots level. The Motherlode Tournament in Colorado is an annual hit that grows every year. The Columbia Clash and Crown Tournaments are perennial events in Columbia, South Carolina (yes, thousands of players in South Carolina) that continue to flourish. The Manhattan Beach Six-Man attracted an estimated 100,000 people for a weekend. The interest in America continues to grow, the twist is properly focusing the interest.
In my humble opinion, the AVP will survive through reorganization. Al Hanneman, a veteran AVP player and owner of the successful Volleyball Vacations and Vice President of Dig for Kids, just posted this as his facebook status:
AVP is officially out of business! No more AVP tournaments this year! Don’t worry though because the sport will be much better off with a fresh start. Good things ahead!
Seems as if Al already has something up his sleeve.
The AVP will likely become similar to the PGA and the ATP with tour stops around the world. The FIVB is currently very popular worldwide. The AVP should form an alliance with the FIVB (the U.S. top players already have) or lure in the international players to play in a few events. These few events should be three or four tour stops in the United States that will be premier international events. An AVP/FIVB alliance could bring the world’s top teams (just as golf and tennis have with the world’s top players) to the United States.
The Manhattan and Hermosa Beach Open need to be two stops. Chicago is always a great venue for the players and sponsors (and my hometown, so it should to be a stop). And Holyoke, Massachusetts needs to be a stop. Holyoke is where volleyball originated (by William G. Morgan in 1895 at the YMCA). The Volleyball Hall of Fame is in Holyoke. It’s time to bring the game back to where it all started and rebuild the beach game from our history. Americans, as a whole, need to have more passion in the sport we originated; a sport the rest of the world already embraces.
I continue to badger John Kessel at USA Volleyball why we don’t revolve more of our events around other large events?!?! Here is my last email to John Kessel:
Subject: Why the Separation?
Date: June 2, 2010
With the recent announcement of the 2011 Girls Nationals in Atlanta, Boys Nationals in Minneapolis, and Adult Open Nationals always played in a 3rd location…why, why, why do we continue to separate our sport? Why can’t we have one big venue under one roof?
We talk about growing our game. I continually hear coaches “complain” that our kids have no one to look-up to or accessible volleyball athletes like the NFL, NBA (blah), MLB, etc. If we put them under one roof, our kids will be able to see some of those athletes they watched in college, play after college…in the United States. How about the USA National Team holding a match across the street of the Georgia World Congress Center in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on a Saturday night of a Boys, Girls, and Adult National Weekend? Talk about a phenomenal crowd and a tough ticket to get?
Its great for the boys to watch the technical aspects of the girls game. Its great for the girls to watch the power of the boys game. Its great for both boys and girls to watch and look-up to the Adults play.
Financially and logistically it would be a much better proposition for USA Volleyball.
I just don’t understand?
John is always great about getting back to me with real responses, even though we’ve only met a couple times. And he does challenge the others at USA Volleyball with this topic, among others. I appreciate that USAV is open to new ideas and hope my ideas spark new ways of thinking at USAV.
To follow-up on the idea of combining events, for beach volleyball, let’s combine a professional beach volleyball tournament with an event like the Manhattan Six-Man Tournament. Let’s have a tour stop in Denver at the same time as the Motherlode (sorry Chicago…I tried). There is a built in fan-base.
The Women’s National Volleyball Association (WNVA) is the next attempt at a professional indoor tour. Ron Deshay, the Executive Producer of American Idol, is passionate about our sport and intends to use a reality base TV show to fund the tour. Thank you Ron, BUT let’s be smart about the matches/tournaments. Host any and all tournaments AT the venues where there are already thousands of volleyball enthusiasts. Host the matches/tournament at the Open and Junior Nationals. Host the matches/tournaments at the JVA/AAU Nationals in Orlando. Host the matches/tournaments at the Big South Tournament in Atlanta. Etc.
Beach Volleyball is alive in America. The next AVP will come around. NOW is an opportunity to passionately rethink, reorganize, and restructure a sport we all love.