Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Flip-flops III: Hawaii and Arizona looking at sand volleyball

The whole point of calling it sand volleyball, instead of beach volleyball, was to, according to the NCAA, make the newly named emerging sport a little more appealing to places not so sunny and ocean-y. But two schools actively considering adding the sport are sunny and warm: University of Hawaii and University of Arizona.

Both schools are seeking to add participation opportunities for women but the economic crisis has been an impediment, they say. And most are envisioning a cheap fix with sand volleyball. It is hard to blame them given the economy. But it is also coming off as a little, well, cheap. At times, the glee over how cheap it is going to be (in part because sand volleyball will likely draw repeat participants from indoor volleyball) reads a little bit like lack of commitment to women's sports. While I realize that cheap is good right now, and that cheaply adding a team to become compliant is better than cutting any team, in none of the articles I have read about adding men's teams (which is still happening) has there been any mention of how great it is to provide opportunities at bargain basement prices.

Such a mentality makes me worry about how sand volleyball teams will be treated once they get established. Remember all you schools seeking to add opportunities, participation is only one aspect of Title IX compliance. Quality of experience (measured in numerous ways like access to trainers, coaching, facilities) counts, too. And some of those things are not as cheap as they may seem right now.