Question from Eddie Davidson via Facebook

What did you enjoy most about playing abroad? What was your favorite country to play in and why? What league was your favorite and why?

It was awesome to be able to enjoy my passion, travel the world and compete.  That can’t happen at this time here in the USA; there are no pro leagues (I’ll get to that below).  Volleyball though is a big deal in a lot of places around the world and it’s awesome to experience.  I really enjoyed all of the places I played.  Russia, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Korea, Austria; amazing people, amazing places.  I’m truly grateful for all of the experiences.  As far as my favorite? That’s a tough one to answer.  I really enjoyed my 5 years in Russia.  The Russian market had recently opened up to foreigners and there were some big sponsors spending money on volleyball. The level was high and it was an exciting time to be there. After that 5-year stint, we went to Turkey for a year and really enjoyed our time there.  The weather was significantly warmer and there are amazing vacation spots around Turkey.  My favorite was Belek which was a small city just south of Antalya and filled with mega resorts and golf courses.

What can we do to get a pro indoor league in the US?

This is an age old question, but worthy nonetheless.  Volleyball has had a hard time in the US breaking out of its current condition and growing.  As far as I can see, the only sustainable aspect of volleyball from a business perspective (in that it is not subsidized by another entity), is club volleyball.  I am determined to build something in volleyball that is sustainable, but that will be another post;)

As for a pro league in the US.  Before we can do that, we need to first connect with the already thousands of fans and give them more access to the sport.  We live in the right time in history to make a move along these lines.  Technological advances have created an opportunity to showcase the sport as it exists currently.  There needs to be a runway strategy whereby we first give US Volleyball fans an “all-access” pass to the amazing volleyball happening around the world.  That will help create more demand.  Right now, the audience is too fragmented.

I also think we need to rethink how we digitally capture and broadcast volleyball events.  In my 24 years in the sport, I have never heard someone come to a live match and say “good job, but that just isn’t for me”. Never!  The game is perfect the way it is. We have to figure out a better way to capture and transmit the live experience of being at a match through the digital channels and into peoples’ living rooms. They need to feel the speed, power, and intensity.  This is a broadcasting issue, not an issue with Volleyball.  Camera angles, instructional graphics, pre and post shows….all opportunities of allowing a person to actual become a fan.  But again, let’s first provide a product and deliver it to the already volleyball fan.  The broadcasting world has done a great job of not only capturing other sports live and transmitting that through the airwaves, but they have even been able to enhance those events.  Take Golf for example; its way better to watch a Golf event on TV.  Same with football and basketball.  There is so much more happening through a broadcast than you get when buying a ticket to a live event.  We need to figure out how to better capture and enhance the live volleyball experience and make someone feel like they were there, even if they were actually streaming on a computer thousands of miles away.

In the meantime, support whatever local team is in your city by buying a ticket and watching a game.  Many of same people that complain that our sport isn’t bigger are the people that never want to pay for anything volleyball related.