Photo By Wan San Yip (Find more of Wan’s work @https://unsplash.com/@wansan_99)
August 24th, 2020
By Eli Elstein
Welcome back to Enter Your Week With Eli! Happy Monday everyone, I’m sure you’re all stoked to start your week. Today I’m gonna talk about a sport that is not talked about enough: volleyball!
It’s no secret that net sports aren’t the favorite type of sport in America. This is a darn shame if you ask me, but I can see why. The pop of a fast-paced game like basketball or the highlights of a baseball or football relegate net sports to the bottom of the sports hierarchy, next to field hockey and bowling. These sports can be just as fun and entertaining, but the attention they get is nothing compared to that of the popular sports fighting for the title of “America’s Pastime”.
“Well, Eli,” you might be asking, “why are you gonna talk about a sport if people don’t pay it much attention?” Excellent question! The answer is just that. We’re going to talk about why people don’t watch volleyball as much as they should, and we’re going to start by addressing something people often think about volleyball when they don’t know much about it.
Volleyball is weird.
Many of the most popular sports are called “invasion” sports, which are reminiscent of war games in that there is a rectangular area-of-play with goals on either side. The purpose is to get something to the other teams’ goal for points, and to get more points than that team by the end of the game. Then there are sports like baseball or cricket which follow a turn-based approach in which one team tries to basically run in circles and get as many points as they can before the other team gets them “out” enough times. That gets weirder the more I think about it, but hey, this is about volleyball.
Volleyball has many attributes that are similar to the popular sports. The area-of-play is a rectangle, there is a net, and the point is to score more points than the other team. Something that can cause confusion is how positioning is handled. There are six players on the court at one time for each team, and they have to rotate positions quite often. Every time a point is scored for the team receiving a serve, that team gets to serve and everyone on both teams is rotated one position. This is something that left me puzzled often when watching it live.
In addition to the rotation system, there is a special player that wears a different jersey. That player is called a libero and their sole job is to play defense. This player can switch with players anytime they want to on the back line. Specializing in defense, they don’t focus on scoring but instead look to receive balls and are often the smallest players on the team. Volleyball is a sport similar to basketball where height matters a lot, and the libero position allows the sport to be more inclusive for people of any stature.
So, maybe volleyball is weird, but aren’t all sports? The libero sounds uncannily similar to a goalie in soccer. There is a rectangular area-of-play, a net, and the same goal as many other popular sports. The rotation system makes sense if you want everyone to get an equal opportunity to serve, and reminds me of the baseball hitting line-up system. Well then, maybe volleyball isn’t weird. Perhaps it is misjudged and is actually just like every other sport. If you haven’t gotten a chance to watch people play volleyball, I think you’ll find it’s a lot more entertaining than the lack of coverage would tell you.