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  • Writer's pictureRiley Grube

NCAA Volleyball Deserves More Coverage

On September 16, 2022, 16,833 fans packed into the Kohl Center to watch the Wisconsin Badgers take on the Florida Gators. This broke the regular season attendance record for an NCAA volleyball game which was set just a week prior by Creighton when 15,797 fans attended to watch them play Nebraska. The Badgers normally play in the Wisconsin Field House, but they were able to play in the Kohl Center for the first time in 24 years. The match also featured a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the legislation that requires gender equality in college sports and education in general. Although the Badgers lost to the Gators in the fifth set, the enthusiasm from the crowd is an indication that NCAA volleyball deserves more recognition and broadcasting.

According to the National Federation of State High School Association, volleyball was the second most popular girl’s high school sport in 2021-22, only behind track and field. Volleyball was also one of the few girl’s high school sports that did not decline in participation from 2018-19 to 2021-22, whereas most sports did see declines likely as a result of the pandemic. This increase in participation at the high school level has led to an influx of talent at the NCAA level, and women’s volleyball is sponsored by nearly 96% of NCAA schools.

The new rules allowing for athletes to be compensated for their name, image, and likeness (NIL) have also highlighted the popularity and marketability of volleyball. According to an Opendorse study, women’s volleyball was the second most compensated sport behind football during the first two months of NIL. Additionally, women’s volleyball is the closest NCAA women’s sport being revenue positive.

However, NCAA coaches have noted that despite the increase in popularity and attention, volleyball television coverage has not kept up. For example, during the 2021 NCAA Division I Volleyball tournament, only 12 games were televised, and the first two rounds of the tournament were only available on streaming services. The championship match between Wisconsin and Nebraska aired on ESPN2 and drew in nearly 1.2 million viewers which highlights that people will tune in to watch volleyball if it is on television.

As conference play is getting underway and the post-season approaches, media outlets should focus more on NCAA volleyball. There is clearly a strong fanbase especially among the top teams as shown by the recent record-breaking attendance numbers and the high television ratings when the sport is actually broadcasted. Women’s volleyball is popular, marketable, and exciting, so more attention and respect should be paid to these incredible athletes and teams.


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