USA team player Matt Anderson hitting against two blockers.

Boys Can Play Too

February 7, 2018

Volleyball is a girl’s sport. True.

Volleyball is a girl’s only sport. So, so, so false.

It’s a common misconception that men cannot play the sport. Fun fact: volleyball was invented by a man. Yup, that’s fact. In the late 19th Century William G. Morgan invented the sport, which he called Mintonette, but later changed to volleyball to fit the purpose of the game.

As volleyball gained popularity, women became the dominant players of the game, though the influence men had over the sport never diminished; at least, not with our friends across the pond.

Europe houses some pretty powerhouse male volleyball players and, along with Asia, holds the majority of the professional teams, leagues, and clubs in the world.

Another fact (not really fun, more like sad); America, the world’s most powerful and progressive nation, full of opportunity and success, doesn’t have a professional league for men’s volleyball.

There is a national team, which competes against other countries in national competitions. However, it’s not like the NFL, NBA, or the NHL, where there are multiple teams in one country to create a national league.

What makes this even more painfully ironic is that Morgan was a New York native.

If the irony isn’t clear enough, let me make it plain: Volleyball was invented in America by a man yet it only has one professional team and a depressingly low level of popularity and public exposure and appreciation.

I’m not necessarily being fair here; because there are actually a number of men’s teams in the country. 22 states offer volleyball as a varsity sport for men at both the collegiate and high school level, and a handful of other states have club teams.

So I suppose my frustration isn’t with the whole of America — Gasp! I know, it’s shocking– but more with Montana

Our state is about to introduce the first exclusive boy’s volleyball team through Missoula’s club program, MVA.

While this is a super positive thing that I’m extremely proud to be a part of and excited for, it evokes a level of annoyance and agitation at such an astonishing concentration within my body that I have no choice but to vent about it in a newspaper, intently shoving my words down readers’ throats, hopefully getting my point across strongly.

It’s 2017. How are boys in Montana just now getting the opportunity to play volleyball?

I don’t speak with a purpose to sound dramatic, but really, it makes me so, unbelievably angry to think back on all the years — nearly a decade — that I’ve spent desperately waiting, fighting for the opportunity to play the sport that I have an undeniable, unfaltering, impenetrable passion for.

I envy those boys who share my same passion, but for sports like football, those who love basketball, baseball, soccer, or wrestling. They’re allowed the chance to exercise their passions, to participate in an activity that brings them a perverse amount of joy.

Embodied in ignorant bliss, these athletes play without the realization of how lucky, how fortunate they truly are to have been handed the amazing opportunity to be happy.

They share my passion.

But I do not share their luck.

 

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