THE COMMON tale of athletes in sports without an organized commercial league is that their careers end sooner than their prime.
Unless they are members of the national team pool or secure a job as an “import” in a league abroad, there isn’t much of a career to look forward to. Working as a coach or in the corporate world seem like the only options left.
This January, Philippine volleyball attempts to restart a commercial league that women spikers can look forward to when their college eligibility runs out.
There have been attempts to get such a league going, like the one started by the Magnolia group of San Miguel Corp. sometime in the late 1980s. It didn’t last very long and players were soon again without a postcollege league.
But things could be different this time around as some big names of the corporate world have signed up for the Premier Volleyball League or PVL.
Dr. Ian Laurel, a former UST volleyball player who has covered the UAAP and the V-League on TV over the years, is the new league’s project director. He says that Smart, Cignal, Philippine Airlines, Army, the Progressive Volleyball Center plus one other company will field teams in the inaugural tournament.
The PVL seems off to a good start as it has the AKTV-Sports 5 group as its broadcast partner. Tats Suzara is the league commissioner. Games are scheduled at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Having covered volleyball matches with Laurel, a physician by profession, you can’t escape his natural verve for the game. With the same enthusiasm, he explained to me why the organizing SportsCore Event management and Consultancy Inc. or Score opted to develop a women’s commercial league.
“We wanted to build on the great following the V-League created,” Laurel relates. The Shakey’s V-League has undoubtedly proven that the game is a great spectator sport over nine seasons and its gains should be pursued even more.
Laurel emphasized that “We will only sign up players who have graduated from their schools,” drawing clearly the demarcation lines between the PVL and the V-League, which is basically school-based.
Schools will most likely continue to participate in the Shakey’s V-League because it clearly prepares their teams for the collegiate leagues.
The end in mind, Laurel further pointed out, “is to also help form a national team,” attempts of which have been problematic of late due to financial difficulties. Tryouts would be held and teams would be formed for stints like the Southeast Asian Games but would fizzle out when logistical problems crept in.
The only issue that perhaps remains is the sustainability question. Team sports maintenance is never easy given that there are at least 12 to 14 individuals to worry about, a coaching staff, practices, uniforms and a countless other contingency expenses.
However, if the PVL can prove itself to be competitive, then people will watch. Sponsoring teams will get the exposure they want and an alternative branding showcase with a whole range of promotional possibilities. It will be worth all the expense in the long run.