In the U.S., there are a few sports that amass huge followings, leading to off-the-chart viewership ratings whenever they’re televised. Known officially as the ‘Big Four’, the leagues that make up this category are the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, or football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. These are the sports that garner the most attention, selling out stadiums around the country and weaving their sub-cultures into the very fabric of the nation.
When it comes to volleyball, many Americans watch the game live once every four years as a part of the Olympics, but do not consider it to be a major contender among professional sports, largely due to its lack of media coverage. However, the reality is that volleyball is a thriving sport home to a whole host of leagues and championships outside the scope of the Olympic games. In this article, we take a look at some of the biggest events on the professional volleyball calendar.
The Olympic Games
Of course, the Olympics are a crucial time for volleyball players who train for years in the hopes of attaining a medal at the historic games. The sport first made its debut at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. In both indoor and beach versions, games are played for three sets, and each set has to be won by 2 clear points. The Soviet Union currently holds the record for most Olympic volleyball medals, with a total of 19. Brazil comes in second with 11, with third place going to the United States, with 6 gold medals. When it comes to watching the games, a large percentage of American viewers actually say that team volleyball is their preferred sport.
Volleyball World Championship
In the second year after the Olympics, the Volleyball World Championships for both men and women, are held. Here, the FIVB (the sport’s governing body) takes bids from major cities for the accolade of hosting the event, with it usually taking place in a different region every four years. Since 1952, there have been 18 World Championships contested, with 24 teams participating. The last event was held in Japan in 2018, and the next is set to kick off in 2022, with the men’s events in Russia (for the very first time) and the women’s events in Poland and the Netherlands.
The FIVB World Championship is a volleyball competition viewed by fans all around the world, and because of its popularity, many online bookmakers provide a wide variety of odds for supporters. In fact, the upcoming event will see this happen even more than before, as virtual sports betting has seen massive growth in 2021 throughout nearly every state. For example, sports betting in New York is well underway, as legislation to legalize betting is being proposed and discussed amongst lawmakers. This means that more fans in the U.S. can look forward to betting on volleyball online in the coming future. Volleyball is already an action-packed, high-energy type of sport, but wagering is a way for aficionados to connect more closely with the players and teams they support. The 2022 men’s event will start on August 26 and the women’s will kick off on September 23. In both, the Soviet Union historically hold the most titles.
Volleyball World Cup
Also held in 4-year intervals is the Volleyball World Cup, another crucial competition in the sport that is held the year before the Olympics. The men’s event was founded back in 1965 with 12 teams participating, and the women’s originated later in 1973, also with 12 teams. Qualifiers in both categories take place over the preceding three years. Just like the World Championship, this international tournament sees top teams go head-to-head in intense matchups. Japan has been the event’s official host since 1977, and will welcome players and fans again in 2022.
So, there you have it! Two other high-profile volleyball matches to look forward to coming up soon. There is no doubt that it is an exciting time of year for fans, especially as the FIVB just recently announced every qualifying participant of the men’s World Championship. One thing’s for certain – more news is set to come from the league in the coming months as preparations continue in Russia.