Friday, March 1, 2024

Three professional leagues, thousands of viewers and TV contracts

In the summer of last year, the images transmitted from the stadium to the University of Nebraska, Lincoln: A total of 92,003 fans gathered to watch a women’s volleyball match between the local team and the neighboring Omaha.

The attendance surpassed the world record for a women’s match in any sport. It is held by FC Barcelona in Camp Nou, with 91,648 followers on Barça-Wolfsburg from Champion in 2022. It was surprising that the masses gathered to watch a volleyball match. In terms of breaking records, why isn’t American football the sweeper of all? Or baseball? Or soccer?

The point is that there is something powerful that happens in volleyball on deer, beyond the peculiarities of that game, which was played in an American football stadium (and not a pavilion), and there was a lot of planning to achieve that record. For those who doubt, all tickets are paid.

Men’s volleyball has grown in the US, but women’s volleyball takes the cake and is the team sport most played at the high school level. The final of the women’s university can attract up to a million viewers on ESPN, the sports channel par excellence in the US. “There are some sports where the women’s category has more weight than the men’s. This is the case with volleyball. I like it more,” he commented from the University of Idaho. Chiara Gennaria is a 19-year-old Catalan player living the American experience at Sant Cugat Volleyball Club.

Immigrate to Europe

Players, however, often find a wall that prevents them from progressing. The American team, made up of university students, is the champion of the Tokyo Olympic Games (2021). Bronze in Rio de Janeiro (2016). Silver in London (2012) and Beijing (2008). I mean, they’re really good. But when their student years were over, if they wanted to continue playing at a professional level, they had to migrate to Europe, to more or less stable leagues in Turkey, Germany, Italy, or even Russia.

“That’s like if Michael Jordan and the Dream Team came back from winning Olympic gold and found there was no NBA to play in,” said Katlyn Gao, CEO and founder of League One in volleyball.

This is the name of a professional league launched in 2024. There are two more. Another emerged three years ago with a unique, almost experimental model, the Athletes Without End and the Pro Volleyball Federation (PVF), which premiered at the end of January with more ambition than the other two. Suddenly, well, three leagues. And the calendars are compatible with each other.

The Pro Volleyball Federation started with seven franchises, each of which is owned by an investment fund that has tentacles of other professional sports franchises. In 2025, three more will be added. More than 11,000 fans witnessed the opening game between the Omaha team and the Atlanta team.

The basic thing is that they signed a generalist network television deal with CBS for the broadcast of a dozen meetings. Maximum disclosure. “For players from Europe, this new panorama is very nice, and for players from North America, it is a dream,” he explained from Ohio. Maria SchlegeSchlegel0-year-old Spanish volleyball player who is part of Columbus’ anger.

It can survive

Schlegel has played in Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany, and now in the US, so he knows his sport and its peculiarities. Previously, he was a professional athlete as a high jumper.

This confirms the interest that volleyball has sparked in the US. “Depending on the state, there is more or less a volleyball culture. In Nebraska, where the crowd record was broken, there is a lot of it. In other states, we will see how it works. But it is already working, and I am lucky to experience it, ”said Schlegel, who usually turns up TikTok to reveal the details of his sporting experiences in front of an impressive legion of followers (about 150,000).

The average salary for a player in the league where Schlegel currently plays is $60,000 per season, and there are two on each team that reach $100,000. Before tax. The Asturian player observes that this is a competition that is still ongoing, with difficulties in combining the calendar of pavilions in some cities. But it emphasizes the strength of the business in the competition. “Behind each team, there are investment funds; there are celebrities, like singers or athletes; there are sponsors… They take money from all sides. It’s a business,” he said.

These new leagues change the perception of players who are about to finish their university studies and want to continue competing. “Many of my teammates told me that they were going to stop playing because they didn’t want to leave the United States. They were forced to do so. Chiara Gennari. It remains to be seen whether these projects will be integrated.

World Nation News Desk
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