Why Isn’t There A Professional Indoor Volleyball League?

We’ve all played some form of volleyball either at the beach or in our backyards during the summer. So why isn’t there an indoor professional league? It seems it would be fitting to have one playing during the hot summer months wouldn’t it?

It’s an exciting game and one of the top women’s sports in high school and college. It just seems that the sport has never gained any momentum with a professional sports league. It came close with the International Volleyball Association which played from 1975-1979 and was innovative as a co-ed league. Even with former basketball great Wilt Chamberlain playing with the Seattle Smashers team in 1978, the league could not survive.

There have been other attempts at professional volleyball:

So are there any current or planned leagues for professional volleyball? Here is what I found:

National Volleyball Association

The NVA is a men’s professional indoor volleyball league in the US, founded in 2018, that currently has eight teams. The NVA was scheduled to kick off its first regular season games this summer in Las Vegas, NV. The remainder of the regular season games will be played in Southern California. The 2020 season has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Volleyball League of America

There are currently five teams in the league located in Phoenix (AZ), Chicago (IL), New York (NY), Indianapolis (IN) and Anaheim (CA). The league recently had the VLA Kickoff Classic tournament July 3-5 in Angola, Indiana.

Athletes Unlimited Volleyball

In partnership with USA Volleyball, Athletes Unlimited is proud to launch the first pro indoor women’s league in the U.S. in February 2021. The superstar roster consists of American Olympic teammates Jordan Larson and Molly McCage. The founding members will recruit fellow pros, create league rules, and retain equity in the league. The season will be shortened to six weeks of intense game play in one city. On the court, the top four players become new captains each week and draft their teams from scratch for next week’s games. In our new radical scoring system, every player can lose or win points during every game. Athletes score points as individuals and as a team to win MVP titles and cash bonuses.

So can these leagues make it? Honestly, probably not. Without major money and fan support it is unfortunate that we may never see a professional volleyball league to the level of major league sports. The only attention for volleyball seems to be on Olympic and Beach Volleyball. Professional leagues overseas have much more success than in the United States. What are they doing differently?

The reason the pro leagues overseas are functional and sustainable is because they are built from the bottom up. That means creating leagues and teams to develop quality players. Countries like France and Germany have at least nine divisions! This is a huge and stable foundation for the pro league to be built upon.

There is always hope for a professional league to take hold and be successful. For many years no one thought soccer would do it until Major League Soccer (MLS) got it done. So there’s always a chance for volleyball.