Well, it’s certainly been a hiatus, hasn’t it? Easily the single longest stretch without a blog post since I first began dispensing my diatribe online almost six years ago. And what has the past four months taught me? Or better put, provided me with sufficient time to go back and do? — Don’t guess, it’s a futile exercise, so I’ll just tell you. — I returned to my bookshelf and reread William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White’s The Elements of Style.
If you happen to have taken a single solitary English class in your lifetime, you’ll understand the cosmic significance laced within that confession. If you haven’t, think nothing of it and just keep reading. It’s going to be short and sweet. Wink.
We’ll start with the PBVA. Yes, it exists. Membership is open to all players of the volley and an interim Board of Directors — which will most likely remain the Board for the entire year of 2011 as I don’t see anyone initiating a new election any time soon — is already in place that includes the likes of Kerri Walsh, Todd Rogers, Matt Fuerbringer, Jenny Johnson Jordan, and Bill Strickland. As stated from the association’s initial resurrection, it is and will always be just an association. Does it have the capacity to take on a role similar to the ATP in tennis? Yes, it most certainly does, but without a complete 100% systemwide overhaul in the sport it will never gain those types of legs. If you’re a player and would like to join, by all means click here and send your scanned membership form to the email address listed in the briefing.
As for the AVP? It too exists, but no word yet on whether anything will take place this summer sporting the now infamous AVP branding. As reported following the auction in December, Nick Lewin maintains ownership of the asset and what he chooses to do with it is completely up to him. I will not speculate further as to the AVP’s future, and instead ask you to do one thing for me: please visit the sport’s biggest organizational Facebook Fan Page here and hit “Like.” Beach volleyball needs all the support it can get and until something concrete does return baring beach volleyball’s iconic jumpman logo, the least we can do is demonstrate via the almighty Social Network how much we love and miss the players who used to play on Tour, and illustrate to potential sponsors in the sport how passionate and plentiful our fan base really is.
— In case you’re wondering, once a fan page accumulates more than 100 connections its name cannot be changed. Otherwise big business would be selling off Facebook databases in the millions and making millions. No question this Mark Zuckerburg production has turned into a serious marketing and political tool; just look at Coca Cola and the nation of Egypt. —
Next up: the USAV/IMG Beach Championship Series, or the four most substantially significant tournaments of the summer. USAV has yet to officially release their schedule, so until they do, I will refrain from reporting on how game-changing I believe IMG’s addition is to the future of the sport. Let’s just say any group able to generate this type of fan response for a surfing event is by all means welcome to join the beach volleyball party any time they want.
Alas we arrive at the two operating tours who have officially released their schedule for 2011 via their respective websites: the renaissance’d Corona Light Wide Open Series (forgoing old school rules in favor of today’s professional rule set) and the brand spanking new National Volleyball League. Before I get into the specifics, here are the dates, locations, operating tours and prize money for both:
May 19-21: Baltimore, MD – National Volleyball League ($75k)
May 21-22: Galveston, TX – Corona Light Wide Open – ($50k)
June 11-12: Seaside Heights, NJ – CLWO ($50k)
June 18-19: Siesta Key, FL – CLWO ($50k)
July 23-24: Chicago, IL – CLWO ($50k)
July 29-31: Milwaukee, WI (Bradford Beach) – NVL ($75k)
Aug 6-7: Long Beach, NY – CLWO ($50k)
Aug 20-21: Hermosa Beach, CA – CLWO ($50k)
Aug 26-28: Virginia Beach, CA – NVL ($75k)
Sept 2-4: Cincinnati, OH – U.S. Open of Beach Volleyball, CLWO ($150k)
Sept 2-5: Aspen, CO (Motherlode) – NVL ($75)
Sept 9-11: Miami Beach, FL – NVL ($150k)
Sept 23-25: Long Beach, CA – NVL ($150k) – TBD
From the top, which tournaments will the best players be competing in? To be honest, most of the AVP names you’ve come to know and love won’t be playing in any of them, as they voyage across the Atlantic and take up residence on the FIVB for the summer — coming home only for those events which aid in the Olympic dream — but that doesn’t mean our country isn’t chock-full of highly talented players looking for exactly this type of opportunity. Not to mention the next generation of American beach volleyball stars.
So, who’s going where and when? Fortunately for players and fans, only two weekends on this combined schedule conflict; opening weekend in Galveston (CLWO) and Baltimore (NVL), and Labor Day weekend in Cincinnati (U.S.Open – CLWO) and Aspen (Motherlode – NVL). This leads me to believe a considerable amount of talent will be sand-side for each of the nine events which don’t coincide, and for the ones that do, participation will generally be relative to prize purse. By that rationale, Baltimore will win out over Galveston and Cincinnati will win out over Aspen, but other extenuating circumstances, such as flights and accommodation, will always play a huge role in determining how far the game’s financially challenged athletes are willing to travel for the love of the sport.
To combat this dilemma, the NVL has added a $100k bonus pool to ensure player attendance at its events. I won’t lie, this was a really smart move to sway players in the direction of Baltimore and Aspen, but it will all really depend on the bonus pool payout structure once the season comes to a close as to who will care about it most.
Last but not least, as other events are announced with greater prize money and possible Olympic qualification elements, this schedule will change and so will the decisions of the players as to where and when they will practice their craft this summer. As always, more to come… but needless to say, it’s good to be back.