The truth is that the USA had its professional volleyball league. Back in 1975, the International Volleyball Association (IVA), which was the country’s co-ed professional league, was founded. This competition was short-lived – it lasted until 1979.
Volleyball life of Wilt Chamberlain and his role in the league
How many of you know that Wilt Chamberlain was a volleyball player? Probably, most of you don’t know this fact. After his glorious basketball career in NBA (two-time champions, four-time MVP), Wilt became a member of the IVA board. But, it was not his only role. He loved volleyball so much that he decided to participate in a professional league, with a goal to attract more fans and sponsors.
He was a front line player of Seattle Smashers. The IVA’s All-Star game was organized and broadcasted, and guess who won the MVP award – the legendary Wilt Chamberlain.
He gave a huge contribution to volleyball and earned a spot in the Volleyball Hall of Fame.
This is one of the rare videos of Wilt Chamberlain in volleyball action:
DIVISIONS, TEAMS & CHAMPIONS
Like other sports leagues in the USA, volleyball league had two geographic divisions. It’s interesting that there were no separate men’s and women’s leagues – male and female players competed together mixed inside the same teams.
In the first season, there were five teams: Los Angeles Stars, San Diego Breakers, Santa Barbara Spikers, Southern California Bangers, and El Paso-Juarez Sol. In the playoff finals, Los Angeles defeated San Diego by 3-1 in series to take the crown.
In 1976, there were two divisions. San Diego took revenge on Los Angeles, beating them by 3-1 in playoff final series.
Orange County Stars were the successors of the Los Angeles Stars and they managed to win the championship in 1977, beating El Paso Juarez in the playoff finals. After five matches, the result was 3-2.
Santa Barbara were the champions in 1978, while Tucson Sky dethroned them in 1979 after beating Santa Barbara in the final series with 3-2. This means that Tucson are the last champions of the USA speaking of a professional volleyball league.
Here are all the teams that participated in the U.S. professional league in the period from 1975 to 1979, according to Wikipedia:
|Santa Barbara Spikers||1975–1979|
|El Paso-Juarez Sol||1975–1977|
|Los Angeles Stars||1975–1977|
|Orange County Stars
(Moved from Los Angeles)
|San Diego Breakers||1975–1978|
|Southern California Bangers||1975|
(Moved from Southern California)
(Changed name from Turquoise)
|Salt Lake City Stingers||1979|
|San Jose Diablos||1979|
So, is there any chance of organizing a professional volleyball league in the USA in the 21st century? There is, but many sponsors don’t see volleyball as a commercially marketable sport. So, some solutions to make volleyball much more interesting for the sponsors in the United States need to be found…
There are more blogs in the WoV Blog section.