Monday, June 2, 2014

The AVP is Still Around in 2014?

Time to go Darren Rovell on you.  I was just flipping channels recently and came across something that I thought had ceased to exist as of a couple of years ago.  I'm not sure why it never caught on; because beach volleyball was always a big draw during the Olympics, but it never caught on between the Summer Olympics.  The party atmosphere had to attract affluent 20 somethings with money to spend.  The athleticism and sex appeal had to draw in both men and women, alike.  It would seem to me that this a is recipe of success for edgy and enterprising companies.  And some well intentioned capitalists took advantage securing some sponsors, finding a TV contract and attracting the best volleyball players in the world.  After years and mergers, the AVP was born. 

In fact, it was just a couple of years ago (it seemed at least) that the AVP made a stop in Quincy at Marina Bay.  We were thinking about going since it always looked like a big party and Marina Bay was 20 minutes away from us.  What's not to love about that - drinks, men and women in bathing suits playing volleyball, and a raucous atmosphere, just 20 minutes from the house?  Alas, it was way too hot for the kids (DLG was just a baby, I remember) when we decided to go.  AVP would have to wait until next year.  That plus I really did not want to wear a pair of Crocs out in public.

Shortly after that, I watched Beach Volleyball once in a while on TV.  It was amusing to watch and I still like the raucous attitude that.  Maybe we could go the following year.

And I kept my promise.  Just a couple of years ago, I checked to see if the AVP was coming back to Marina Bay and discovered that the AVP had gone under.  Just like other fringe sports that sought to capitalize on Summer Olympic glory for the Americans, mainstream beach volleyball just could not secure the crowds or the corporate sponsorships to survive.  I have to admit that I didn't understand.

So I forgot about it.

Until tonight.  Flipping channels, I see that the AVP had magically reappeared on the CBS Sports Network.  What I was watching was the St. Petersburg Open that was featuring a couple of stars from the 2012 Summer Olympics.  Kerri Walsh-Jennings and April Ross, who both won medals for the USA back in 2012 were playing a couple of other women who I had never heard of.  And of course, I looked at the AVP website and found that this was a recent tournament, not some sort of ESPN Classic sport.  It got me thinking how this league could be sustained.

First, seek corporate sponsors that fit in with sport.  Hey I get that the AVP wants us to worry about being healthy, but a sport played on a beach begs for alcoholic sponsors.  Bud Light, Michelob Ultra and Smirnoff Ice make a lot of sense.  Energy drinks, water enhancers and water sports make sense here too.  Paul Mitchell does NOT make a lot of sense.

Second, market the players better.  I'll stay away from the obvious way to capitalize on the sport.  But Kerry Walsh-Jennings and Misty May could do a lot more to be ambassadors of the sport.  More marketing of international championships might make this a little more exciting by bringing in some nationalism.

Finally, look to barnstorm a little more.  During the Summer, the AVP can play anywhere in the U.S.  During the Winter, play in Hawaii, Florida and Southern California.  Reduce ticket prices a little bit but offer higher priced concessions.  Look to bring in more people, rather than overcharging the fans who do want to come in.  And these players are looking to stay fresh for the Olympics so prize money may be reduced with little in the way of resistance.

Before you know it, we'll be back to Marina Bay.

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