Where will the volleyball hoopla lead to?By Sev Sarmenta
Philippine Daily Inquirer
NATIONAL University’s men’s volleyball team put an exhilarating end to the 2012-2013 UAAP season with a victory in the finals against Far Eastern U. The Bulldogs roared back from eight points down in the first set to seize the momentum that would craft their four-set championship triumph against the Tamaraws.
The NU win played out in front of another enthusiastic though smaller-sized crowd at the Flying V Arena compared to the ones that trooped to the La Salle-Ateneo finale at Araneta and MOA. It didn’t matter really. The NU-FEU crowd was just as lively, further underscoring that volleyball as a spectator sport in the Philippines has truly arrived.
The men’s tournament finale was extended to a full three-game series. Earlier in the week, La Salle’s women’s team made short work of Ateneo in the second game of their series with an emphatic straight-set triumph to complete a sweep. Thousands filled up the venues in that finale, underscoring the impact of the game on the local sports scene and in the communities of the participating schools.
All this hoopla, hype and interest are good for the sport. Volleyball appetites will further be satisfied as the Shakey’s V-League gets unwrapped this summer. We will get our fill of women’s volleyball while we remain hopeful that a men’s tournament outside of the collegiate sked gets a chance to thrill audiences.
One wonders why no one has picked up the men’s game as a regular tournament made for TV. There’s athleticism, excitement and potential stars to groom. The same audiences that adore the women’s game will love the young men playing con todo gusto or with the same fervor the women play.
Where does all this volleyball enthusiasm leave us? What ever happened to the commercial league that was being eyed as the extension of the college game euphoria?
Does all this enthusiasm translate into forming national teams for the sport?
Word has it that there’s too much politics and disagreement in the volleyball ranks to build on the momentum that the sport is enjoying right now. There’s so much talent in the game today that it would be a waste if many of them just stop playing. Instead of seeing players grow and mature and serve the country in a national team, it looks like we will simply lose them to the need to make a living. They will have to put to good use the college degrees they earned as not all of the players who will graduate this March will become coaches.
It is hoped that the differences and misunderstandings in volleyball can be sorted out so that the sport can continue to grow. There is already enthusiastic media support as seen in the generous story spreads being given by newspapers. Television is already there as an active partner. Social networks are abuzz with tweets and the like about favorite players and teams.
Maybe all the problem really needs is for the sport and its supporters to calm down for a moment, strike down the net that divides them and talk things over.
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