Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Volleyball Carol

by Unknown at 5:22 PM

Matt Garthoff produced a pretty hilarious low-budget volleyball version of A Christmas Carol. I roffled pretty hard, especially at the Nick Lewin appearance. (Lewin is the head dude at RJSM and put The Net Live dudes on hold during a live interview.)

Favorite quote: "No ... Hans! I don't want to tweet!"


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Majority shareholder of now-defunct AVP gets a sweet deal

by Unknown at 6:28 PM

The majority shareholder of the now-defunct AVP has purchased the sandy skeleton of the once-proud beach volleyball tour at a bankruptcy auction for $3.8M in cash and debt forgiveness -- relative chump change for total ownership of the premiere US pro beach volleyball tour. When the AVP served its last ball of 2010, it had $184,000 in assets and $4.97M in debt.

RJSM Partners LLC now owns the whole shebang: assets like the AVP name, intellectual property, domain name, gear, furniture and probably cases and cases of leftover Gatorade and Fiji Water.

Maybe it was RJSM's shrewd plan all along to acquire the AVP by stringing it along with some cash, letting it die, and knowing they could get it for a song. Then again, what are you really buying? A bunch of gear, some balls, some signs, a domain name and a business model that is anything but lucrative.

How they earn a return on their money waits to be seen with the AVP's supposed return in 2011.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

John Stossel plays beach volleyball

by Unknown at 10:11 PM

20/20 anchor John Stossel is apparently a hardcore Central Park beach volleyball player. Who'da thunk?

I liked him better when he was trying out pro wrestling, though.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Manhattan Beach Open will be kicking it old skool

by Unknown at 8:32 PM

With the AVP out of the picture, the 2010 Manhattan Beach Open will be kicking it old skool: big court, sideout scoring, white leather ball, no let serves.

There will also be no accompanying circus of sponsor tents, vinyl signage, or grandstands that the AVP liked to drag along with them. Just sand, nets, players and fans. Just like Baby Jesus wanted.

It sounds like it's definitely worth checking out. You may not see the Manhattan Beach Open like this again for some time.

Fri 8/20 -  Sun 8/22

More in the LA Times story.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Book Review: Order on the Court

by Unknown at 9:56 PM

Back in 2008, a freelance journalist named Tom Burke published "Order on the Court", a book about the viscera of U.S. professional beach volleyball. He graciously sent me a review copy, which I only skimmed at the time. I promised a full review, but never got around to it because I was busy with one thing or another. (Hey, running a beach volleyball Web site pays even less than playing on the tour.)

So, sorry, Tom. Here's your review.

"Order on the Court" is an easy read -- took me this afternoon -- with lots of juicy facts and a history of the turmoil that has marked the AVP since inception. Burke makes little attempt to mask any disdain for AVP management, but regardless of this obvious bias, it's still a notable work of journalism.

The most interesting chapters deal with the AVP's inner workings, like how sponsorship deals work; management and player attitudes; and the orchestration and costs required to hold just a single AVP event ($1M for a single event!). Perhaps this stuff isn't anything eye-opening to players and others close to the sport, but it was for me.

Most poignant is the final chapter, in which Burke suggests an end to the AVP not much different than the one that came on Friday. The actual shuttering of the 2010 tour reads like the book's unwritten epilogue.

"Order on the Court" gave me more sympathy for the AVP administration, yet even more disappointment at the repeated, costly squandering of the organization's potential and good will. According to Burke, the AVP was already considered "damaged goods" by potential sponsors, so it will be quite interesting to see what -- if anything -- rises from this latest, and most severe, valley in the AVP roller coaster.


The AVP is Dead

by Unknown at 2:57 PM

Matt ProsserJust two years after its players swept gold at the Beijing Olympics, the premiere U.S. beach volleyball tour has closed its doors.

On Friday, August 13th, the AVP announced it had run out of money and was shuttering operations, effective immediately; almost all staff have been laid off. See the LA Times story for more.

This doesn't come as a huge surprise to most: players have known the tour was on shaky ground for the past few months. In fact, the AVP has been bleeding out for the last couple years now, only saved recently by investment from a mysterious group called RJSM Partners.

Hans Stolfus, scribe and former player, has written a long, but eloquent, requiem for the AVP, chock full of player quotes, obscure volleyball references, and his typical passion and emotion for the sport. Ironically, it's posted on the AVP Web site.


Friday, February 26, 2010

2010 AVP Schedule

by Unknown at 2:32 PM

[Wow, where does the time go? I think the 2009 AVP season was almost a non-event for me. Work can do that to a person. Luckily, I'm under-employed at the moment. And it's almost volleyball season again.]

The 2010 AVP schedule has been posted. So far, there are only 12 stops slated, with seven stops in California alone. Conspicuously absent are markets where the AVP had previously sought to expand the sport's popularity, like Louisville, KY and Muskegon, MI. Rather, it appears events are focused in markets where attendance, as well as revenue, is guaranteed.

Compared to the frenzy of 17 events in the 2008 Olympic year, and 15 events in 2009, 12 stops might feel like a slow year to some. While fans might lament the fewer opportunities to watch pro beach volleyball, there are upsides.

Lisa Rutledge

After recent financial woes and major sponsor pullouts, the AVP will be saving some much-needed cash in a slow economy and another year of company rebuilding.

In April 2009, AVP founder and CEO Leonard Armato was reportedly fired as the company's financial woes deepened. New CEO Jason Hodell, who -- despite his meager $50 in pro volleyball winnings -- has past experience in unf*cking (technical term) troubled businesses, seeks to make the company profitable.

Whether the extra money, if there is any, trickles down to players will remain to be seen. Event purses don't appear to have been posted yet.

Fewer events will also mean fewer injuries, which means better competition, and higher quality of play. For fans, it's simply more fun to watch.

Finally, with the exception of the top players on the tour, almost all beach volleyball athletes pay their own travel expenses to events. With no guarantee of winnings, and relatively small winnings when they do find success, travel expenses alone can drive even a dedicated player into the red. By focusing events in California, where most of its players are based, the AVP is helping its talent save a lot of money, too.

Billy Strickland

2010 AVP Schedule

04/16 - 04/18 | Fort Lauderdale, FL
South Beach

04/29 - 05/2 | Santa Barbara, CA
West Beach

06/3 - 06/6 | Huntington Beach, CA
South Side of Huntington Beach Pier

06/18 - 06/20 | Virginia Beach, VA
South of Virginia Beach Pier

06/25 - 06/27 | Belmar, NJ

07/16 - 07/18 | Hermosa Beach, CA
North Side of Hermosa Beach Pier0

7/24 - 07/25 | Malibu, CA 2010
Zuma Beach

08/14 - 08/15 | San Francisco Bay Area, TBD

08/19 - 08/22 | Manhattan Beach, CA 2010
South Side of Manhattan Beach Pier
Cancelled; to be run by CBVA

08/27 - 08/29 | Chicago, IL
Oak Street Beach

09/3 - 09/5 | Mason, OH 2010
Lindner Family Tennis Center

09/17 - 09/19 | Los Angeles, TBD 2010