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The History of Sports, Part VII: Volleyball

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An early game of volleyballVolleyball is a sport that has only been around for a little over a hundred years, but has had major success around the world. For those who don't know, volleyball is a sport played by two six person teams which are separated by a net. Ball is put into play by one player serving the ball, and the object being to ground the ball on the opponent's net in order to score points. It has come so far in its short existence that it is played in every major international sporting event, including the Olympics.

Like basketball, volleyball started off as a sport that a professor put together to keep his students busy indoor in the cold winters of Massachusetts. William G. Morgan was looking for something to keep his students busy with the least amount of physical contact so as to not hurt any of his business professionals and older members of the YMCA. He decided to create a game called Mintonette by taking a few ideas from handball, tennis, baseball, and basketball, and melded it into a game that more than one person could play and was physically intensive but not contact intensive. The net was set 6'6" high, and the court was set at 25x50 and could be played by any number of players. The game was set for nine innings with three serves for each team in each inning.

The name volleyball quickly came around when Alfred Halstead noticed how the ball was volleyed back and forth during the game. The game quickly caught on and became known as "volley ball" (two words). After that first exhibition game, the game became very popular and began being played in YMCAs across the state. Slowly, it expanded from there.

The first country outside of the United States to play volleyball was Canada, which began playing it in the early 1900s. It then quickly spread to Cuba, and finally in 1919, about 16,000 volleyballs were distributed by the American Expeditionary Forces to their troops, which sparked the growth of volleyball in new countries.

Volleyball is one of the fastest grow sports in history, expanding around the world in little more than two decades. Just 30 years after its creation, volleyball was being demonstrated to the Olympics to be considered for inclusion in the Olympics. It has been said that in 1951, up to 50 million people had played volleyball in over 60 different countries. That was just the push volleyball needed to finally make it into the Olympics. Finally in the 1964 games, volleyball was an official sporting event, and has now become one of the most watched events of the Olympics.

Beach volleyball, a variation of the game played on sand and with only two players per team, became an indorsed variation in 1987 and was added to the Olympics program at the 1996 Olympics. From a small town game to a world phenomenon, Volleyball has come a long way and continues to grow into a sport played and enjoyed by millions of people.

Author of this article: Mohammad Rizvi
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