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volleyball is different over here – euro champs

Posted by markleb on September 16, 2009

Men’s European Championships finished on the weekend after another really interesting tournament that proved there is no longer a dominant team in Europe.  In the last two editions of there have been seven different semifinalists (only Russia made it both times) and two first time winners.

There were a couple of interesting (to me at least) side notes.  For bronze medallists Bulgaria it was a really big event, as it was their first European medal since 1983.  That information surprised me as Bulgaria is historically a strong volleyball country.  But the rarity of the event made it important enough for the Bulgarian president  himself to travel to the game to cheer the team on, which he did a lot of.  Judging by the amount of time the TV cameras spent on him, he might have been the only person in the gym.

Poland were also happy about the result.  Despite winning a World Championships and an Olympic Games they had never won a European Championships.  And the Polish public were excited.  Apparently seven million people watched the game live on TV!  On pay TV!  That was the same number of viewers as the most recent Polish national team football match, that was shown on free to air.

4 Responses to “volleyball is different over here – euro champs”

  1. we gotta make volleyball a better spectator sport here in adelaide!

    • devo said

      The thought of Kevin doing his Brisbane Lions cheers at volleyball is both exciting and scary. Maybe that should be the next mission for the senator.

  2. Kasper said

    So unsurprisingly there were a few surprises at the end, with Russia choking once again. Good call on that, Mark.

    From what I heard, the number of spectators in the gyms in Turkey was very disappointing after the hosts were knocked out.

    • markleb said

      It was clear from the TV pictures that the stands were far from full. Which I guess is one reason they showed the Bulgarian president so much. But is also more or less normal and is one reason why I think club volleyball is often more entertaining than national team volleyball.
      Big international tournaments are played at a single venue, so by far the greatest number of fans is from the home team. Only a few hardcore fans might travel to see their national team team play and home fans often aren’t interested in other games or volleyball per se. So the crowds are normally less and the atmosphere in gyms is more subdued unless the home is actually playing.
      Club events, in contrast, are normally played in smaller gyms, and fans seem to have a much stronger connection to their local club than they do to their national team or to the sport of volleyball. Obviously opposition fans also travel in greater numbers when the journey is a couple of hundred kilometres on a weekend, than internationally for a week. So the gyms are fuller (even if the crowds are less), with more fans who care more.
      Consequently, I find the atmosphere for club games to be more intense than international games. Even Olympic matches in Sydney aren’t really comparable to the intensity and passion I’ve experienced in small gyms in Belgium or Germany or bigger gyms in Italy and Poland.

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