Volleyball doesn’t exactly jump out as a sport that commands a huge betting audience – that’s because it isn’t. Often aired at late hours and obscure channels, volleyball’s struggles to obtain mainstream attention have been well documented. However, there is a bright light and a glimmer of hope for volleyball, as while betting coverage is low, it does exist, with more leading betting sites adding it as a market as time goes on.
The following looks at both volleyball’s presence as a sport when compared to other smaller sports, along with how a sports betting element could help the game improve its mainstream coverage.
1. Volleyball’s Market Position
Sports betting in the UK has become nothing short of a behemoth. Yet, for the millions upon millions of pounds that are wagered every day, volleyball makes up just a small percentage of that. When you compare it to other small – or should we say less popular sports in the UK – such as badminton, speedway, and darts among others, you can see that it’s not exactly in esteemed company. Volleyball is pretty much in line with other small sports in the UK when it comes to betting – with there being a distinct lack of market choice and coverage.
2. Hampered by Poor Coverage
It’s pretty easy to see why volleyball is low on coverage, as the sport is barely seen in the mainstream. Matches take place at small-sized sports halls or beaches, while funding is drummed up through local sponsorship. Effectively, volleyball is left out in the cold financially, which means it doesn’t have the polished presentation of more popular sports. Even when the Olympics come around every four years, you would be hard pressed to name a single player on Team GB’s volleyball team – men or women.
Another issue also relates to how volleyball is a sport is handled from a promotion and TV perspective. While it does appear on the likes of Eurosport – a low-level sports broadcaster – the sport is still woefully under-promoted. This is very true when it comes to live game attendance, as crowds are practically non-existent – much like the country’s enthusiasm for the sport.
3. Finding a Way to Boost Volleyball’s Popularity
There are a number of things that volleyball as a sport can do to boost its popularity, with this starting at a grassroots level. Youth involvement is pivotal should the next generation of volleyball players wish to be more popular than the current, struggling generation. The game must be promoted adequately in schools and “on the ground” to help it improve its standing.
Also, the TV coverage of volleyball must change in the UK, as it’s currently hindering the sport rather than helping it. While Eurosport’s coverage is an acceptable option at present time, that’s simply the case because the sport simply doesn’t have anywhere else to go. Volleyball needs to be pushed via a mainstream channel, somewhere that has true national coverage. Think Sky Sports, a series of channels that has already shown how it can boost struggling sports with its growing netball coverage.
4. Sports Betting Could Help Improve Volleyball’s Mainstream Presence
Sports betting is engrained into British culture, just look at sites like playright which shows the sheer mass of online bookies out there. Adverts for sports betting sites also air seemingly every five minutes on TV, to the point where it’s even become an issue raised in parliament. Should volleyball be able to generate traction in the sports betting domain, it could help attract wider audiences. Natural interest in the sport just isn’t there, but a betting influx could work to change that. Betting in the UK has become an all-encompassing part of sport in the country. Increased volleyball markets, in this case, will only help the sport grow.
What bookmakers – specifically online bookmakers – are able to do is shine a spotlight on a sport. It can be argued that sports betting is what has helped sports like darts and snooker become more popular in the UK. With the right approach and approximate introduction of fresh markets, it could do the exact same for volleyball. Many people see volleyball as a beach activity, or something that’s just played at the Olympics, sports betting backing could change that perception entirely.
5. Volleyball Needs a Popularity Spike!
Being realistic, volleyball won’t ever challenge for the title of “world’s most popular sport” – it won’t ever get close, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t improve its standing. Volleyball needs to look towards sports betting to help it generate interest on a national scale, as without it the sport could simply remain on the backburner for years to come.