Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in the world. In fact, it has the second most number of registered professional players in the world, with football obviously having the highest. If the number of member nations to its association are considered as a measure of popularity, volleyball surpasses even football and every other sport. The governing body of Volleyball has 220 member nations. Not bad for a sport with 120 years of history.
The sport of volleyball was invented more than 120 years back in America. A gentleman called Willian Morgan, who was close friends with the gentlemen who invented basketball half a decade back gets full credit for the invention of the game. While basketball was getting rapidly popular in America, it somehow didn’t appeal to the rich and famous. It was too much of a contact sport for them and gentlemen in that era hated that kind of thing. Due to this popularity, there was a huge demand for the best volleyball shoes for men and women and companies like Mizuno and Reebok started manufacturing them in bulk.
So Mr. Morgan went on and invented the more sophisticated sport of volleyball. He took the net from tennis, lifted it up a few feet and took the ball from basketball and made it lighter. With continued effort, he soon got an invitation from YMCA for the demonstration of his newly invented sport.
The demonstration happened in front of the professors of YMCA. It is interesting to note that in his initial draft Morgan said that volleyball can be played by ‘any number of players’ per team. The demonstration was a rather successful one and one of the professors asked Mr. Morgan to change the name of the sport to a more apt ‘volley ball’ instead of the original name given by Morgan, which was the classy “Mintonette”. We all know that the name stuck because that is pretty much the name of the sport in the present times, except the missing space between volley and ball.
The sport spread through YMCA very quickly and soon it was a part of physical education curriculum in YMCA all over America. It soon spread internationally and like for most things that start in America, the next destination was Canada. It was not long before it went to the farthest corners of the world.
It was in Asia, Philippines to be precise, where the game started to look more like it does now. It is here that the concept of setting the ball for someone to spike it originated. It remains the most important aspect of the modern game.
For the lack of a governing body, volleyball in different parts of the world used to have different rules. For example, Morgan envisioned it as a game which can accommodate as many players as possible while in Asia, the number of players per side was fixed at 16. The unification was provided by formation of the international governing body for the sport, the FIVB.
Formation of the federation went a long way in unifying the game. Standard rules were set – like 6 players a side and 3 touches per chance – and tournaments like the world championship and world cup were initiated. However, it still took volleyball till 1964 to get an entry into the Olympics though it has been a part of the games ever since.