May We Please Leave a Court Up?

Nov. 20, 2009, 10:28 a.m. (ET)

Over 20 years ago I was working with the University of Colorado program, working with several club teams to merge them into a single varsity program. In this process,  I reached one of my top 10 goals in volleyball, that of having a single volleyball court always up for any level of play to use, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, in the beautiful Rec Center on campus.

You see, when a young aspiring athlete, boy or girl, says "May I shoot some hoop?" it only takes a few seconds to respond to that request - and less if they came with their own basketball. However, what happens at most schools and other facilities when a player or two asks "May I spike a volleyball?" 

On average every school and rec gym, even the elementary schools,  of our vast nation have six volleyball training devices up around the gym perimeter.  I don't know why they put up so many nice setting/passing targets, when we really need just a net up all the time, but that is what the culture currently is. To top it off, athletes come in and throw up (in a way that any good volleyball referee would have to call for a throw or lift, since they get to hang onto and control the ball they use so long) these large brown balls at the orange vball target.  Then for some reason, volleyball players start to also shoot volleyballs into the orange volleyball target hoops, rather than set or pass them in a way that is legal for the game of VB. I have never wanted to take a basketball and start setting it when I see a volleyball net....so why do we shoot volleyballs thru these wonderful volleyball training devices? The answer is, because there are a million of those, and hardly any nets up when we walk into the gym to be an athlete.  

So what we seek is simple. Whatever the size of your facility or sports program, that for every six hoops up that basketball players can use, we volleyball players get ONE net up. A six to one ratio seems fair to me, given the tens of millions who play the game, but right now it is six to zero.

Today, all over the United States, if not the world,  when a young aspiring volleyball player asks to spike a few balls, the gym supervisor sighs deeply and then says, give me half an hour....and then....

...might, or might not, crank up one, two or even three  basketball backboards,  which if not done electrically, might wear out the forearms and patience of the director before things even get set up....

...then search for a pocket knife or screwdriver to pop open the tightly sealed standard cover plates...

...then has to haul out two strong but heavy metal standards...

...then drag out, tripping over the cords, a 10 meter long net and hang it at across the standards....

...then look all over the place for the cursed crank, which when finally found,  they spin and spin until the net finally magically rises.

Now, don't even consider asking to put up the antenna (unless they are attached and making the net even more challenging to haul out).. but hopefully the athlete is still there wanting to hit some balls.

And when they are done playing, the whole operation has to be performed in reverse, taking just about as much time as it took to set it up.

So what would I like for Christmas? Just one court. One measly court set up for volleyball players to just be able to come in and play a bit, without having to bring out the Army Corp of Engineers to help make that small request happen.  We did it at CU, and it was used all the time, by both men and women, and actually, coed play was the most popular version being competed.

We volleyball players are not selfish. If some basketball players want to shoot hoop, they certainly may, using the side backboards.  They can even get the crank and take the net and standards down, and lower the end backboard, just as just as long as, when they are done, they do what we have spent lifetimes and millions of minutes doing - of putting the net back up and raising the backboard.  And mom, you would be happy to note that I asked by saying the magic word, and said MAY we, not can we.

It is only fair. Basketball is a great sport, but so is volleyball, for girls AND boys. We just need ONE court....

Comments

The following comments were made on our previous web platform and have been transferred here to maintain the historical record.

On December 02, 2009 tonja ayala wrote

Amen!

On December 02, 2009 Bryan Williams wrote

That's a very good point you've made. And written extremely well. You are correct in that nearly every court in United States is built primarily with basketball in mind. It's no coincidence then that when someone wants to just "play around" they grab a basketball. It's a lot of work to get out volleyball equipment, but when it is out, I've noticed a lot of people will pick up a volleyball and start playing around. I hope you get your Christmas wish and my compliments to you on your post. It was very enjoyable to read.

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