Sand Volleyball Participation Increases While Many Team Sports Decline
Lexington, Ky. (August 13, 2010) - An increased number of people in the United States are picking up volleyballs and heading to the nearest sand court. According to the 2010 Sports Participation in America survey, produced annually by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), the number of people ages six and over who participated in sand volleyball increased by 7.3 percent between 2008 and 2009.
While all is not rosy on the sand volleyball front, as the Association of Volleyball Professionals(AVP) Tour is struggling with financial woes, still nearly 4.5 million Americans participated in sand volleyball in 2009. The sport continues to thrive at the youth level with the number of events sponsored by the USA Volleyball Beach Junior Tour, which includes both boys and girls in five different age divisions, growing from 13 events in 2009 to over 22 in 2010. Most recently, the U.S. Girls' Youth tandem of Jane Croson and Summer Ross became the first American team ever to win the FIVB Youth (U-19) World Championships, capturing the gold medal August 1 in Porto, Portugal.
The positive numbers in the SGMA report may be a reflection of the NCAA's decision to add Sand Volleyball as an emerging sport for women in both Division I and Division II. Several institutions have already indicated that they will add sand programs on their campuses, including the University of Southern California, Florida State University and Tulane University.
The 7.3 percent increase reported by the SGMA represented over 300,000 new participants from the previous year, making sand volleyball and fast pitch softball the only team sports to gain over 300,000 participants. In fact, of the 23 team sports tracked by the SGMA, 16, including the largest participation sports of baseball, basketball, football and soccer, all showed declines in participation. Even court volleyball, which had experienced robust growth of over 17 percent in 2008 when other sports had already started to shed participants, gave back much of those gains in 2009, mimicking seven other sports suffering double-digit losses.
"The economy has been tough on many team sports, especially those with highly-organized club systems," said AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer. "We are fortunate that volleyball players can still grab a ball and head outdoors for their volleyball fix. This year, Sand Volleyball has provided a bright spot for the participants in our sport."