Thursday, October 18, 2007

Parity in volleyball

ESPN columnist Dave Reed has a very thorough piece on women's volleyball which has grown exponentially at the junior level. This has had a great effect on the collegiate game which, according to those involved, has achieved that magic word in women's sports: parity. Parity is the nice way of saying: generally, you don't suck anymore. It's not that I don't appreciate parity--no one like to see a game where one team or player dominates endlessly. But I dislike that frequently the term is used with no explanation. The people who use it often fail to provide a thorough explanation of the historical, cultural, and economic circumstances that impeded parity for decades.
Reed, thankfully, does not do this. His column explains the ways in which the women's game has grown and how that has been helped by more development programs, more money into the sport generally and specifically the attention paid to it by colleges and universities who are intent on turning it into a top two women's sport (alongside basketball). Better coaches, better players, better contests. The latter has been in evidence this season during which, at time of the column's publication, 41 unranked teams had staged upsets over ranked teams.
This may make my friends who are huge Nebraska (perennial favorites) fans a little uneasy, but it's good news for the rest of intercollegiate volleyball. The NCAA tournament starts in December and many are predicting that the upsets that have marked the regular season will continue there.

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