Men’s Indoor Volleyball. Why isn’t it more popular? It could be the rules. There are a lot of them and people who don’t know the sport always have a tough time learning it. But, broken down to its basics, it has the same structure as any other sport: two opponents, one ball, the team that reaches the winning score first (by at least two points), wins. It could it be the scoring. It used to have Side Out scoring, which meant that games could last forever before either team reached 15 points. But, now they use Rally scoring, which means points accumulate faster. No, it can’t be that. Frankly, I don’t know why more people haven’t fully embraced this sport. But I can tell you this: you are missing something extraordinarily fun and wildly exciting.
Men's Volleyball by desmorider via Flickr
If you've never seen the sport played, you need to go straight to your nearest gym and witness one – high school, college, club, it doesn’t matter. Just find a Men’s Volleyball match near you. You won’t be disappointed. In fact, you’ll be enthralled by the speed and excitement and wonder why you didn’t discover it sooner. And, then you’ll thank me!
Having grown up around basketball – yes, I was one of those who’ve followed the Lakers from the day they moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles – I love the fast-paced nature of this sport. When basketball stopped being a team sport and entered the Lob City territory of "Look at me...I'm flying and I'm spectacular," I became less enchanted by it and turned my attention to ice hockey: like basketball, the sport moves quickly but, unlike the style of basketball that’s played today, ice hockey must be played by a team – it cannot be played successfully by only one athlete. Ice hockey has its own issues as a spectator sport (unless you watch a game live, it’s difficult to follow the puck on television). But, some people don’t like the fights that break out on the ice and that’s understandable. So, why not turn your attention to Men’s Indoor Volleyball.
There's nothing quite like it. Men’s Indoor Volleyball is a team sport that combines all the best elements of basketball, hockey, football and track & field. You must play it as a team. All players on the team must be quick, agile and powerful. The best players are super athletic and are extremely skilled in a variety of areas: they can hit a powerful serve with laserlike precision; they can hit the ball not only with extreme force but with pinpoint accuracy; they can keep their balance while falling to the ground to get a "pancake" save (throwing your hand under the ball just before it hits the ground so it bounces up and can be set for the next hit); they must jump hurdles over the seats as they chase an errant ball to keep it in play; they must have a tall vertical leap to get the ball over the net and the outstretched arms of the opponents; they must leap again with their own strong outstretched arms to block the ball coming at them at a fast speed.
The other thing about athletes who play Men’s Indoor Volleyball? They are almost to a man humble and nice. They are not show boaters. They are not ball hogs. They don’t try to dominate on the court. They are just cool guys who love playing the sport and who play it because they love being with other guys who love playing it.
See? Men’s Indoor Volleyball is a fast-paced, extremely entertaining sport, played by cool guys who love playing it. So, why aren't more people giving this sport some love?
Men’s Indoor Volleyball doesn't rake in big bucks like football or basketball. It competes with the girls' side of volleyball, which became popular by way of Title IX, and this side of the sport not only gets the love but the attendance (could be their teeny-tiny shorts and too-tight tops but it’s probably due to the fact that athletic scholarships for the boys were cut in half while scholarships for the girls’ side were increased). But, trust me. While the girls play with plenty of energy and skill, they don't play with the same level of power. And, since their net is lower, they don't need the vertical hops. While the men’s side features three basic power-and-skill moves – dig, set, hit – the girls’ side features long (sometimes, really long) rallies.
To me, there’s no better spectator sport than Men's Indoor Volleyball. And, yes, I’ve watched plenty of live sports over my lifetime, including basketball (I was fortunate to see players from Wilt Chamberlain to Kobe Bryant play live), football (when LA had the Rams and the Raiders), college football (what’s better than a game featuring the USC Trojans), ice hockey (the LA Kings when they had Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille). But, there really isn’t anything as exciting and fun as Men’s Indoor Volleyball. (Full disclosure: my son played volleyball for six years and, at the age of 16, his club team [Santa Monica Beach Club] was ranked #1 in Southern and Northern California and won the bronze medal at the Junior Olympic National Volleyball Championships in Salt Lake City, Utah.) I've spent many, many hours sitting on hard bleachers in cold (or hot) gyms, watching boys play. Trust me: this is a wonderful sport.
It’s disheartening that, despite all the hard work and skill required, the fans don’t show up to support these players. Well, now’s your chance! This weekend, Men’s Indoor Volleyball is in its prime time. The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation is holding its quarterfinals this weekend with matches all over the West. And, on May 3 and 5, the NCAA Final Four will be held at USC’s Galen Center. USC is currently the #1 team in the MPSF and also the nation, so if you love the Trojans, this is your time to cheer, too!
If you are somewhere in America, do yourself a favor: buy a ticket and watch this great sport played live. If you’re west of the Rockies, find an MPSF quarterfinal match and cheer for the teams playing. If you're in LA, come to Galen for the quarterfinal match featuring CSUN vs USC. It'll cost you around 10 bucks. That's cheaper than most movie tickets!
You won’t be sorry. And then you’ll thank me.
So, have you ever been to a live Men’s Indoor Volleyball match? What did you think? Post your comments below.
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