Pro Beach Volleyball is Alive and Well in the U.S.
Pro Beach Volleyball is Dead. Long Live Pro Beach Volleyball…
When the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) folded last year days before the Manhattan Beach Open, that tournament, known as the Wimbledon of Tennis, survived because locals stepped up to save it. But what of the professional beach volleyball players left holding the bag? No prize money, few if any sponsors, no future.
Step in USA Volleyball and marketing/branding giant IMG and this year we were blessed with the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series for 2011. Starting in Mahattan Beach, with a stop in Miami’s South Beach, then back to California for the finale in Hermosa Beach, the “Cuervo” showcased some of this nation’s top volleyball players and put up legitimate prize money to boot.
Not everyone was satisfied. Many of the top Olympic-qualifying pros (read: May/Walsh, Dahlhauser/Rogers) chose to play in Europe in order to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. Others simply boycotted because there was not enough unity in the US. Besides the Cuervo, others stepped up to produce separate, smaller tournaments.
The Corona Light Wide Open and the National Volleyball League offered tournament stops all over the US, although with a smaller “footprint” and arguably smaller draw. Many pros viewed this fragmentation as not healthy and called for unification.
But we are not pros; we are spectators. We come to the beach to see good quality volleyball from top athletes. The Cuervo proved that Pro Beach Volleyball is alive and well. And with its commitment to add more stops next year, the big-money backers of the tour have given us confidence that the show will go on…
For more information on the Cuervo series:http://www.josecuervoprobeachvolleyballseries.com/Splash_Page.htm