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AVP, CBVA, and the Manhattan Open
by AJ Mihalic
On Friday the AVP shut down operations and went bankrupt. On Monday CBVA was chosen to host the 2010 Manhattan Beach Open. In a shocking twist of events, tournament director J Parker Saikley convinced the Manhattan Beach City Council to play the event under “old-school” rules, against the advice of CBVA president Chris Brown. “Old-school” rules include the larger court (30′x30′), no antennas, and an all-leather Wilson ball. These are my thoughts on the whole thing.
This all seems so comical. It’s funny to me that there is always this wide disconnect between volleyball players and event coordinators, neither realizing that things are that way because they allow them to be. I hope sooner than later the players, the directors, and even the critics of either will take some personal responsibility and do what they can to create something symbiotic and sustainable.
To me, concluding that the rules contributed to AVP’s failure is a ridiculous assumption. Previously, rule changes were considered the very solution to volleyball’s woes. While it turned out that rule changes are not THE solution, the natural inclination of some to claim the old rules are now volleyball’s boon seems to point to the very problem itself. Namely, short-sightedness. Too many people fail to look any further than rules. It should simply be noted that every successful professional tour in the entire world has changed to the modern rules and every successful league in other sports has adapted its rules.
For those that believe volleyball needs old culture, I would also note that international success doesn’t necessarily rely on any elusive “cool” factor. Perhaps international culture is a bit more honest and relies on sex-appeal and the sport action itself. Whatever it is I’m not entirely sure, but I think trying to create an exclusive culture that inspires a large following is a daunting, undefinable task, like defeating terrorism. OK, maybe it’s not so intangible as that, but to think of creating such a phenomenon on an international scale and in an international environment seems rather unlikely to me. I do think that world-wide appeal should be a major goal of any sports business endeavor in this age.
I think when rebuilding Pro Beach Volleyball it’s probably a wise idea to look at the existing successful models of professional sports, especially volleyball, and borrow those things that lend themselves most easily to volleyball. I think this needs to be done in a cohesive way, blending player needs with sponsor needs into fan friendly events. That is the service that the AVP should be attempting to provide.
This attempt to snatch up an event of the failing AVP and stamp nostalgic “old-guys rules” onto the game seems like it’s just a new source of division. Like I said, it seems comical. Then again, maybe they’ll run a 1990s style event and it will be the catalyst that inspires the creation of a sustainable tour.
In one respect, I’m glad the AVP ceased operation. The AVP as it is currently operating should collapse. It’s much better than enabling a broken model to continue operation despite its inability to support itself, e.g. the US Auto Industry. With this death, there is now the space and opportunity for something new to be erected in its place.
I think Dan made a great point when he pointed out that embracing the internet will be the savior of any struggling business attempting to survive on advertising through traditional media outlets. This is probably true of non struggling businesses in this genre too. All right, it’s universal. Being ahead of everyone else as far as direct access on our mobile phones and computers is going to catapult your success regardless of how crappy your business model may be. No business in the foreseeable future will be able to compete with a rival business that has a stronger web presence.
So what’s gonna happen?
I don’t think the Corona Wide Open is going to be able to fill in the role of the AVP. Perhaps the FIVB will surface in the US. Maybe BVA. Maybe AVP restructures and resurrects itself. I’m not sure, but I have a hard time seeing no tour at all next year. However, I don’t see anyone stepping to the plate.
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