[ Robert Silverman ]
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Thoughts about Volleyball
In the Park and Elsewhere

Volleyball is a social recreational activity that anyone can enjoy. This was the intention of Mr. William Morgan of the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1896: "Volleyball is a game for the unfit and the fit."

A New Way to Play

This is often obscured by the ideology of competition: winning is the goal; not playing--very few people make the team while young or at school. This ideology dictates: only the best play, no rotation of functions, hard unreturnable serves or missed serves and very hard spikes. And recently, the deviations- some say perversions- of volleyball: two against two, four against four. Although these two variations, evidently, give participants greater exercise as they touch the ball at virtually every play, the social interaction, the real joy of volleyball, is lessened. Additionally the courts are greatly underused as four or eight people use them at one time instead of twelve; an absurd and unjust situation when there are many people wishing to play.

Convivial Volleyball

Convivial volleyball is, above all, a social contract between twelve people. Social volleyball is governed by the following principles:

  • Women and men play together equally;
  • Always serve underhand;
  • Serve with the purpose that the other side returns the ball;
  • Only spike after the ball crosses the net six times;

    From the perspective of the players and the spectators, the most pleasurable volleyball occurs when the ball crosses the net at least eight times. This is the only time that both sides applaud.

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    By Robert Silverman, Montreal, May 24th 2001.

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    © Robert Silverman 2001