Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Sand volleyball trickles down

The NCAA approved sand volleyball for its emerging sports list for DI and II schools in 2010. Now it seems state interscholastic sports associations are testing its feasibility at the high school level. Well, at least in Arizona which recently held its first high school sand volleyball championships. This is the first year of the two-year pilot program for the sport that the Arizona Interscholastic Association approved. And it looks like next year the program will see an additional 15 teams participate. (There were only a handful this year.)
What I found interesting was that student-athletes in Arizona were speaking of their preference for indoor or outdoor volleyball, which confirmed some of our concerns that schools were just doubling up numbers for Title IX purposes rather than creating new opportunities. In other words, sand volleyball teams would likely be comprised of indoor team members. This is certainly happening at the high school level, but how prevalent it is at the intercollegiate level remains unknown. But I was encouraged by the fact that current and former high school volleyballers were talking about choosing either an indoor collegiate program or a sand volleyball program. In fact, one player turned down an offer for an established indoor program to go to a new sand program at USC.
Also our concerns about the sexualization of student-athletes in the sport seemed to also be a concern for Arizona officials. Sand uniforms are the same as indoor uniforms. Spandex shorts (which are admittedly quite short and nothing like men's volleyball shorts) and full-length tops. No bikinis or bathing suit tops.